Record number of traveling Hoosiers may fight slick holiday roads

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 23, 2014)-- A record number of Americans are expected to travel this holiday season, and Hoosiers will have to deal with tricky roads if they start their trip on Christmas Eve.

According to AAA, 98.6 million people nation-wide will hit the road this holiday season, momentum thanks in part to lower gas prices.

Of those, nearly 2.2 million are Hoosiers, with a notable uptick from this time last year. It's an increase that tops 110,000.

"Hopefully we get a little snow," said Ruben Bonilla.

Bonilla and his family may get their wish, too. They came from New Mexico, a 22 hour drive, all to see his mother Rebecca here in Indianapolis. It's a trip that didn't cost as much as expected.

"It was planned before the gas prices went low, and thank God it went so low," said Bonilla.

Cheap gas is pushing people to take holiday trips, with more Hoosiers hitting the road from Tuesday until early January. AAA defines the year-end holiday period as Tuesday, December 23rd to Sunday, January 4th. The fact that both Christmas Day and New Year's Day fall on a Thursday means the travel season is longer and more accommodating to those wanting to take a trip.

"That's a significant uptick from last year and very reflective of what we're seeing nationwide," said Greg Seiter, with AAA Hoosier Motor Club, "We've been seeing steady growth. I think this is a reflection of that but certainly what we're seeing right now is a step well and above what we were seeing just a few years ago with the recession and the economic woes."

But if you're cutting out on Christmas Eve, it could be slick, too. DPW has eight drivers activated for Christmas Eve night into early Christmas morning, with another twelve on standby.

"Because it's been so warm the past couple of days, pavement temperatures are actually pretty high, in the fifties, so what that means is, if we get a little bit of snow, it's a lot less likely that'll stick to roadways," said Scott Manning, with the Department of Public Works.

INDOT also tells FOX59 they are monitoring the forecast and will have trucks ready to go to treat any interstates that may become slick.

"We have to go to both our Christmases," said Emilee Cotten.

But the weather will not stop Emilee Cotten and Ethan Searcy from their travels.

"We go 45 miles one way, then we'll travel all the way back and then this way farther, so a lot of driving," said Searcy.

FOX59 caught the couple on Monument Circle getting engaged! That means they've got to tell everyone the big news in person.

"I'm more than excited, I'm blessed. I have the most beautiful woman in the world, and I couldn't be more happy," said Searcy.

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