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FHP, F-DOT prep for busy holiday travel season

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Tampa is among the top 10 travel destinations this holiday season, according to AAA.

As families finalize their travel plans, traffic leaders are preparing for their busiest season.

8 On Your Side went inside the Florida Department of Transportation’s control center in Tampa for a look at the efforts underway to keep roads safe.

Sergeant Steve Gaskins with Florida Highway Patrol says, “People know the rules, they just need to follow the rules.”

AAA is expecting 5.4 million people in Florida to travel to their holiday destinations by car — up 1.2 million from last year.

FHP is dealing with the increase by deploying more resources.

“If they see those officers, people tend to drive a little bit better, slow down, buckle up, drive a little bit better,” describes Sgt. Gaskins. “It’s a reminder that I need to drive like I’m supposed to.”

He says drunk and distracted driving cause the most issues on the roads, but it’s also important to make sure your car is in good shape.

Mark Jenkins with AAA explains, “We’re expecting to respond to about 1 million stranded motorists for the common three: flat tires, dead batteries and lockouts. A lot of those things could be avoided by a simple inspection.”

F-DOT is suspending all major detours and lane closures from December 23 through January 3 to make travel easier.

“Road rangers are out there patrolling the roads, helping with crash scenes, helping change tires,” said Kris Carson with F-DOT. “Unfortunately, we’ve had over 12 road rangers hit recently. We just want to remind everyone to please pay attention.”

AAA sent the following recommendations for travel times:

Daily Worst and Best Times to Travel
Date Worst travel time Best travel time
12/23/21 12:00–6:00 p.m. After 7:00 p.m.
12/24/21 2:00–6:00 p.m. Before 1:00 p.m.
12/25/21 Minimal congestion expected
12/26/21 1:00–7:00 p.m. Before 12:00 p.m.
12/27/21 5:00–6:00 p.m. Before 1:00 p.m.
12/28/21 1:00–7:00 p.m. Before 12:00 p.m.
12/29/21 1:00–7:00 p.m. Before 11:00 a.m.
12/30/21 1:00–7:00 p.m. Before 12:00 p.m.
12/31/21 2:00–4:00 p.m. Before 1:00pm, after 5:00 p.m.
1/1/22 Minimal congestion expected
1/2/22 2:00–6:00 p.m. Before 1:00 p.m.
Source: INRIX