‘Drivers, Start Your Engines’ – Thanksgiving Weekend is Going to Have Roadways Busy

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The countdown has begun. No, not for Christmas.

The countdown has begun for the busiest day of the year. No, not Black Friday.

The busiest day on our nation’s roads is here! The day before Thanksgiving – Wednesday – TODAY – is traditionally the busiest travel day in our nation. And with some of the lowest gasoline prices in several years, Americans are more likely to be hitting the roads even more.

“Encouraged by low gas prices and a steady economy, travelers will experience more traffic on our roads than in recent years when more people stayed closer to home for the holiday,” said INRIX Analyst Jim Bak. “… Drivers will battle more traffic heading out of town this year, particularly on routes near major airports.”

Thanksgiving Highway TravelIf you’re one of 46 million Americans – that’s roughly one out of every seven people in our nation – heading over the hills and through the woods to grandma’s house this weekend, you’re enjoying both the lowest gasoline prices in five years and the busiest highways in seven years. Regarding the gas prices, according to AAA, the average price at the pump for regular gas in Ohio is $2.84 a gallon – a 40 cent decrease over a year ago. Nationally, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $2.81 – nearly 50 cents cheaper than 2013. Lower motor-fuel prices have AAA estimating that nearly nine out of 10 Americans traveling this Thanksgiving Weekend will be doing so on our road system.

Fortunately for Ohio drivers, it is home to none of the busiest cities for Thanksgiving traffic. According to INRIX, a data technology company, the honor of busiest traffic cities goes to: 1. Los Angeles, 2. Portland, Ore., 3. San Francisco and 4. Seattle. The remainder of INRIX’s top 10 worst traffic cities for Thanksgiving are all east of the Mississippi River: New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Miami.

INRIX reports that Americans headed out of town the day before Thanksgiving can expect their trips to take 25 percent longer to get to where they’re headed than on typical Wednesday drives. It’s better than Los Angeles and Portland, where travelers in those West Coast states’ metro areas can expect drives to take up to 36 percent longer than normal.

Bak said traffic data shows that the best time to head to your Thanksgiving destination on Wednesday is before 2 p.m. or after 6 p.m. He suggests, if possible, to avoid it all together and head out early Thanksgiving Day. “If it’s possible to wait to leave until Thanksgiving morning, roads will be free and clear as long as you’re not heading to the Macy’s Parade or a major shopping center to get a leg up on Black Friday.”

If you didn’t beat the rush and are sitting in traffic, you can join the debate of whether Thanksgiving Weekend is the source for the worst travel of the year. According to USA Today, it’s not. “There are about five or 10 days during summer that are busier than Thanksgiving,” said AAA’s Troy Green. “… But this holiday definitely earns a spot in the top 10.”

Chew on This

While you’re sitting in traffic, here’s something to chew on before that Thanksgiving feast. According to AAA, the worst days for traveling are (in no particular order):

    • Fridays in summer
    • Christmas
    • July 4th
    • Memorial Day
    • Spring Break
    • New Year’s Eve
    • Labor Day
    • Easter
    • Mardi Gras
    • The day before Thanksgiving (but you probably realized that by now)

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