If you are planning to travel this holiday season you are not alone! According to the United States DOT, the busiest travel times occur during winter holidays. Thanksgiving day is the heaviest long-distance travel day. So we have compiled some tips on how to stay safe when driving during the holidays!
Know When People Travel
Media attention focuses on crowded airports and train stations. Yet, 91 percent of holiday travel is by personal vehicle. If you plan to travel by car over the upcoming holiday season you may wonder which days are the most crowded. For the Thanksgiving holiday, the days people drive on depends on how far they are traveling. Those traveling less than 100 miles tend to travel on Thanksgiving day. Those traveling greater than 100 miles are more likely to travel the Wednesday before. Since Christmas and New Year’s vary each year the highest traffic days also vary. If the holiday is near the beginning of the week, the weekend prior tends to be the most congested.
Where Do They Go?
The average long-distance trip over the holidays is 200+ miles long. Half of all holiday travelers take same day trips. In most cases, people are heading to visit family or friends. But, many Americans take advantage of the time off of work to take a leisure trip. Business travel drops during the holiday season compared to the rest of the year.
How Many Travel?
It is too early to predict how many people will take to the roads this holiday season. In 2014 AAAestimated over 46 million travelers for Thanksgiving weekend. Over 89 million drivers hit the road for Christmas and New Year’s.
Don’t Forget Weather
Unfortunately, in November and December the weather often makes the drive more complicated. With flights cancelled some travelers find their only option is driving to their destination. Poor road conditions make travel slow and add potential danger.
Prepare For Your Trip
If you will be traveling this holiday season you will likely encounter heavy traffic. It may be difficult to get on and off exit ramps. Speeds may be slower than typical. Accidents or poor weather will cause significant traffic jams. Consider the following tips to help make your trip successful!
- Plan your route. Investigate which roads will likely have extra travelers and try to plan an alternate path. Although the route may be longer in mileage, avoiding heavy congestion could save time.
- Consider which days you will travel. If possible, avoid the most popular days for travel by extending your trip a day or two. Traveling on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving may save you a headache and give you an extra day on your trip.
- Bring a GPS. This will allow you to re-route your trip. Unanticipated situations, like a traffic accident, could stop traffic for miles.
- Toll Booths will have long lines. If your journey uses an EZ Pass or Fast Pass system, consider getting the device to save time. If not, make sure you have plenty of change with you for tolls.
- Pack for a worst case scenario. We hope you’ll make it to your destination with zero issues. Yet, media stories of people stuck in snow storms should make us all prepare for the worst. Be sure to pack an emergency winter kit In your car. Verify your gas tank is full when you set out.
- Pay attention to car maintenance. A broken down vehicle will force you to alter your travel plans. Be sure to make sure your car is in good working order before you leave. Check that your oil level and tire pressure are appropriate. Make sure your headlights, tail lights and brake lights all work. If you suspect any issues have them checked out by a mechanic before departing.