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Buckle up: AAA expects heavy Thanksgiving travel

Traffic flowing in and out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport should be heavy over the next few days. AAA says that Americans are expected to travel more over this week's Thanksgiving Day holiday than they have in 12 years.

Heavy traffic will combine with the usual holiday concerns about drinking and driving to increase the risks of motor vehicle crashes resulting in injuries.

AAA says it expects a surge in holiday travel because consumers are confident and the economy is robust. The auto club says about 51 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more during the 5-day holiday that extends from Wednesday through Sunday. Nearly 8 percent will fly to their destinations, while 89 percent will drive.

Travel by car is projected to increase by 3.2 from Thanksgiving last year, while air travel is expected to soar 5 above 2016 levels. Overall, AAA says, travel is projected to rise 3.3 percent.

AAA said airline fares will be the lowest in five years, with prices for the top 40 domestic routes projected to average $157 per round trip.

That's in contrast to car rental prices, which are expected to surge 34 percent above last year's prices. Also rising: hotel prices, which have increased 14 percent over the past year.

Warm-weather spots are again popular destinations, with Orlando, Florida, and Anaheim, California, the top two on the list. (Is it coincidence that those places are home to Disney theme parks? Probably not.)

Now that you're armed with travel predictions, please drive carefully so that you and your loved ones can arrive back home safe and sound.

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