Thanksgiving Travel: By the Numbers
AAA Carolinas predicts that a record 1.54 million North Carolinians and 750,000 South Carolinians will travel 50 miles or more from home this Thanksgiving. This represents a 2.9% increase over last year. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov.27, to Sunday, Dec.1 holiday this year.
The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations and, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects Wednesday afternoon to be the worst travel period nationally, with trips taking as much at four times longer than normal in major metros
By the numbers
Automobiles: the vast majority of travelers – around 1.34 million North Carolinians and 678,000 South Carolinians will hit the road this Thanksgiving, nearly 2.8 percent more than last year.
Planes: The largest growth in holiday travel is by air, at 4.6 percent, with 107,700 North Carolinians and 53,300 South Carolinians flying to their destinations.
Other modes (trains, cruises and buses): 42,500 North Carolinians will use other modes of transportation to arrive at their destination along with 21,300 South Carolinians.
Lower gas prices fuel road trips
Gas prices have been fluctuating as of late, but are currently cheaper than the national average at this time last year, giving Americans a little extra money to spend on travel and motivating millions to take road trips. For the majority of Americans, AAA expects gas prices to be fairly similar to last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, which averaged $2.57.
For daily updated gas prices, visit: https://gasprices.aaa.com
The most popular days to travel are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after Thanksgiving. If possible, plan your travel around these days (Thanksgiving Day is the best day to be on the roads).
In North Carolina over the 2018 Thanksgiving holiday period (11/21/18-11/25/18) there were 3,805 crashes resulting in 22 fatalities and 1,481 injuries. In South Carolina over the same time period, there were 1,280 collision resulting in 12 fatalities and 506 injuries.
Law enforcement will be out in full force during the holiday. The North Carolina State Highway Patrol will take part in the Thanksgiving 1-40 Challenge – a joint operation among seven other states along the 1-40 corridor. Starting November 21, troopers will be placed every 20 miles along the major interstate.
Last year over the Thanksgiving holiday, AAA Carolinas rescued approximately 8,400 motorists, with the primary reasons being dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts. AAA recommends motorists ensure their vehicles are in peak operating condition by having it inspected by a trusted repair shop, such as an AAA Approved Auto Repair facility. Nearby locations can be found at AAA.com/Repair.
Thanksgiving eve has become a big night for binge drinking, as family and friends return home to reconnect for the holiday. Labeled “Blackout Wednesday,” many times the evening consists of over-drinking which can lead to drunk driving.
“Blackout Wednesday, also known as Drinksgiving rivals New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day,” said AAA Carolinas Traffic Safety Foundation President, Tiffany Wright. “With so many ride sharing services available such as Uber and Lyft, there is no excuse for getting behind the wheel intoxicated.”
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.
- Stay off the roads the night before Thanksgiving if possible.
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.
- Don’t drive distracted. Put the phone away. Disconnect and Drive. Avoid behaviors such as eating, applying make-up and adjusting the navigation system.
- Keep valuables in the trunk or locked area.
- Have your roadside assistance contact information (eg:AAA) on hand in case an incident occurs on the road.
- Keep a cell phone and charger with you at all times, in case of emergency.
- Obey traffic safety laws: Wear your seatbelt. Don’t speed. Drive according to the weather and road conditions.
- With an increase in traffic, expect delays and incidents on the side of the road. Obey the Move Over Law.
- Be patient. Understand that everyone is in a hurry to get to their destination. Utilize turn signals, give drivers space and avoid road rage.