WASHINGTON — The most people in more than a decade will hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to groups that keep a close eye on travel trends. They stress the day before Thanksgiving is the time to avoid driving.
Travel analytics firm INRIX said almost 50 million people will drive 50 miles or more during the long holiday weekend. AAA said we’re about to experience the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2000, only slightly trailing a record set in 2005.
INRIX and AAA said there will be major delays all week long, but the groups underscore that drives will be the slowest on the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving when travelers mix it up with everyday commuters.
"With record levels of travelers, and persistent population growth in the country’s major metropolitan areas, drivers must prepare for major delays," INRIX analyst Trevor Reed said in a news release. "Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the week."
INRIX predicts that drives will be the worst in the D.C. area from 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27. INRIX predicts delays will be 2.8 times longer than the usual.
Why so much driving? AAA says it’s a sign of a healthy national economy and flat gas prices year-to-year. AAA expects the national average on Thanksgiving to settle at $2.57.
"Strong economic fundamentals are motivating Americans to venture out this holiday in near-record numbers," AAA Vice President of Travel Paula Twidale said in a news release. “Travel Consumer spending remains strong, thanks to increasing wages, disposable income and household wealth, and travel remains one of their top priorities for the holiday season."