Bay Area Getaway: Roads face holiday gridlock, record number of travelers expected

Red and white headlights and taillights lit up Bay Area roadways as holiday getaway traffic mixed with regular commuters to create gridlock at the start of the year-end holiday travel season.

AAA says for the first time on record the number of holiday travelers is expected to exceed 100 million people nationwide, and most of them plan on driving.

"We're going to Clayton which usually is about 45 minutes and the GPS says about 2 hours," said Sarah Coffing, who has been traveling with her family and fighting holiday traffic all the way from Utah.

"Weather, people, traffic, it's just been nonstop. I feel like our vacation's been in the car," Coffing said.

According to AAA, one in three Americans plan to travel between December 23rd and January 3rd. AAA says that's partly being driven by a better economy, with an improving job market, low prices, and more money in the pocket for people to spend.

In Emeryville, people said they noticed more traffic.

"Lot more traffic, very congested. Bumper to bumper. It's taking me twice as long to get 15 feet," said Rodney Withers of Montclair, who still managed to keep smiling.

AAA says another factor for more travelers is the low gas prices. "I feel great filling up now. I don't feel bad giving my card to the machine,"  said Parmeet Plahey of Emeryville.

Some people say they plan to avoid the roads, though, at all costs.

"I'm going to relax. I travel for a living so I'm going to take it easy," said Will Walker of Emeryville.

Others are making the best of it, enjoying some family time on the road.

"Sitting in the car for endless hours is pretty terrible, but once you get with the family, it's pretty good," said Matthew Coffing of Alpine, Utah.

"I'm just glad to be off work and take a vacation, be with the kids, be with the family," said Withers.

One holiday gift is that gasoline prices are expected to remain low and could dip below $2 per gallon in some parts of the country by New Year's Day. That would mean drivers would pay prices not seen since 2009.