DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)– AAA of Dayton expects a major increase of travelers this holiday since Ohioans have the entire weekend to celebrate. Although with more drivers, the chances of getting into an accident may increase as well. AAA estimates Wednesday and Christmas Eve may be the busiest traveling days during this holiday weekend but definitely busier than last year.

More traffic may encourage people to rush, which is one of the worst things drivers can do this weekend.

“Last year we had lockdowns, stay at home orders and everyone didn’t feel great traveling,” said Public Affairs Manager AAA Kara Hitchens. “This year, I think people are just eager to see their loved ones.”

Hitchens anticipates 4-milion extra drivers will be traveling Thursday and into Christmas Eve just in time to make it home this holiday weekend. With a 26-percent increase in road traffic than last year, AAA says drivers need to stay on high alert.

“We should be scanning the roads, looking down and looking for hazards,whether it’s a pothole or maybe someone lost their load that they’re carrying,” said Hitchens. “You should also be a defensive driver to be able to make a move or react to someone else’s bad driving.”

With the weekend filled with holiday gatherings, AAA suspects there may be an increase in drunk driving as well.

“We always tell people before you go out, make a plan on how you’re coming home,” said Hitchens. “By the time you start drinking, at the end of the evening your judgement and reasoning could be out the door, so before you go out have a plan on how to come home.”

Michigan Resident Travis Stanfill says he’s been traveling all over the country during the course of the pandemic for work and is eager to get on the road tonight.

“Of course get home in time for the holidays with my family, I’m leaving tonight, be in time for Christmas Eve until a couple days after Christmas,” said Stanfill.

One Dayton resident says she’s not traveling for financial reasons but otherwise she would be packing her suitcases in a heartbeat.

“I feel safe, wear a mask, I’m vaccinated and feel safe to go,” said Dayton Resident Heather Workman. “It’s safer to travel this time than last year because people are vaccinated, but still wear a mask and be safe.”

Moraine’s Fat Daddy’s gas station says they’ve seen an increase of Ohioans filling their gas tanks and traveling home for the holidays.

“We’re seeing a lot more people coming in, traveling, and letting us know they’re vaccinated and seeing their families this year,” said Store Manager Zach Dahlingaus.

Stanfill says many of his coworkers, family and friends just want the holidays to return to normal.

“I was never nervous, I traveled the country the whole time during covid for work but a lot more people are traveling, it’s just not a concern for me,” said Stanfill. “It’s not worth living your life in fear, it’s time to get back to reality.”

AAA advises drivers to prepare their cars before hitting the roads, make sure tires are filled, breaks aren’t bare and stay alert.