Cheap gas and the long weekend will send New Jerseyans traveling in record numbers this Christmas.

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The numbers from Triple-A/Mid-Atlantic indicate 2.5-million New Jerseyans will travel at least 50 miles from home this Christmas and New Year's. Spokesperson Tracy Noble says not surprisingly, gas prices have a lot to do with that.

"The fact that gas is so much less is really driving the travel," Noble said.

Today, the national average for gas is $1.99 per gallon.

"This is the first time that gas prices have been at $1.99 for a national average since 2009. And in New Jersey today we are seeing gas prices at $1.88 per gallon, that is 11 cents cheaper than the national average," Noble said.

In fact, AAA projects 90 percent of those Christmas travelers will be hitting the road. According to AAA, 6.3 percent of New Jerseyans who travel will be flying, 156,000 of New Jersey residents will be taking to the skies this holiday and 3.3 percent will travel by what iAAA describes as "other modes" of transportation.

Noble says the calendar will also play a big role, with Christmas Eve on Thursday and Christmas on Friday.

"People are going to be taking advantage of the long weekend and they are going to be on the move," she said.

AAA predicts a 2.4 percent travel increase over last year, and the most travel for the holiday since they started keeping score.

"Regardless of which way people are going to be traveling, they will be out and about and they are going to get to their holiday destination," Noble said.

Nationally, there is another record-breaker. AAA is predicting 100 million Americans are going to travel 50 miles or more from home for the holidays. That is an increase of 1.4 percent year over year, and it is also the highest projected number on record.

Triple-A also injected a note of caution in this holiday's travel formula regarding drinking and driving.

"We want to remind everybody the year-end holidays are a time of joy and to gather with family. But we also need to drive home that safety message," Noble said.

She said the AAA Foundation pulled together some statistics explaining that 1 in 5 licensed drivers - about 21 percent who drink at least occasionally - have reported driving when they thought that their alcohol level might have been close to, or over the legal limit. Noble calls that, "a scary statistic."

Noble said if you are hosting a party, make sure that you have alcohol-free alternatives. If you need to take the keys from a loved one or a friend, make sure that you do so.

"They will thank you for it after, even if they are going to be angry in the moment," she said. "Today, there are so many options for mass transit, for taxis or Uber. Use an alternative mode of transportation if you need to."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jerseyan 101.5.

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