Thanksgiving Travel Tips

AAA Carolinas projects that close to 2 million Carolinians will journey 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving. That equates to about 1.3 million North Carolinians and 630,000 South Carolinians traveling on the roads. 2017 Thanksgiving travel volume will be the highest in 12 years. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 22, to Sunday, Nov. 26.


With the surplus of drivers on the roads Thanksgiving week, AAA Carolinas urges motorists to drive with caution and to take the necessary steps to get to their destinations safely.


The most popular days to travel are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday at the end of the weekend. If possible, plan your travel a day later (Thanksgiving day is the best day to be on the roads) and come home a day earlier.


North Carolina saw 2,649 crashes over 2016’s Thanksgiving holiday resulting in 20 fatalities. This year, AAA hopes to see those numbers decrease.


AAA Carolinas offers simple holiday road survival tips for motorists:

  • Map your route in advance and be prepared for busy roads. If possible, consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
  • Avoid distractions behind the wheel. Keep your phone in a secured place until you arrive at your destination. Avoid behaviors such as eating, applying make-up and adhering to the navigation system.
  • Keep valuables in the trunk or locked area.
  • Have your roadside assistance contact information on hand in case you are stuck alongside the road. 
  • Keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times, in case of emergency.
  • Obey traffic safety laws: wear your seatbelt and drive to the conditions.
  • With an increase in traffic, expect delays and incidents on the side of the road. Remember to move over for emergecy and utilitiy vehicles.
  • Understand that everyone is in a hurry to get to their destination. Utilize turn signals, give drivers space and avoid road rage.


The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving has become a big night for drinking, as old friends are all home for the holidays. It is the worst night of the year for drunk driving crashes and has thus been named "Blackout Wednesday." With the majority of Americans off work the next day, many see Wednesday night as a time to drink. 


In order to stay safe on the roads late at night, AAA urges motorists to:

  • Never drink and drive. Have a designated sober driver in place if you plan to drink.
  • Utilize a ride sharing service such as Uber, Lyft, or a taxi.
  • Be a defensive driver. Pay attention to the cars around you. 


For more seasonal traffic safety tips, please subscribe to our AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety e-newsletter. By clicking the button below, you will be registered to receive an email each month with the latest information regarding traffic safety, including travel forecasts and automotive trends.

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