Published: Dec 22, 2010 6:45 PM EST
Updated: Dec 22, 2010 3:14 PM EST

FORT MYERS, Fla.-- With vehicle travel expected to be up 3.2% in Florida this holiday season, it's important you follow the rules of the road.

AAA South predicts 4.5 million Florida residents will drive rather than fly to their holiday destinations this year.

If you plan on putting the pedal to the metal, there are some important tips you should follow:

- Check the weather conditions where you will be driving. Not everyone is currently enjoying Southwest Florida's sunshine. Prepare you car for snowy or rainy conditions if needed.

- If needed, give your car a tune up. Check the oil, tire pressure, and the wear and tear on your tires before beginning your journey.

- Avoid distractions. Put down the cell phone while driving.

- Don't drive while drowsy. Be sure to get plenty of sleep before your trip. If the drive will take several days, take several rest breaks in order to remain alert.

- Be a defensive driver. Just because you took the necessary precautions while driving, doesn't mean those around you have as well.

- Buckle up. Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of injury and death in the event of a crash.

- Don't drink and drive! If you find you've had too much eggnog, have a friend drive you home, or take advantage of the AAA Tow-to-Go Program. "It's totally anonymous," says Fort Myers AAA Travel Manager Marsha Kut. "They will walk in, get you, take your keys, and will take you home, take your vehicle home. No questions asked." The number to call for a lift is 1-800-AAA-HELP. The service is free, and you don't have to be a AAA member to take advantage.