Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go.
Along with every other vehicle in America.
Welcome to Thanksgiving – the one holiday when it seems like half of the country has either taken to the roads or rolls the dice at an airport in order to spend time with the family that they love and don’t see often enough.
The massive influx of motorists, coupled with winter driving conditions, makes it impossible to gauge whether it will be a smooth trip or one filled with road closures, ice accidents or just general congestion as people flock to get out of town for the first long holiday stretch of the year.
And there are a lot more people doing it this year.
Thanks to a rebounding economy and gas prices that are continually dropping the number of people taking to the roads and skies this year is expected to be at its highest point since 2009, according to AAA.
The Bay Area is supposed to have the worst traffic congestion the day before Thanksgiving than anywhere else in the nation. Roughly 5.7 million Californians are expected to travel more than 50 miles away from their home for the holiday, with the bulk of those using roadways to get to their destination.
“A steady pace of consumer confidence continues to motivate budget-conscience Californians to get behind the wheel or board an airplane to gather with family and friends,” AAA Northern California spokesperson Cynthia Harris said. “While many remain cautious about the economy and their personal finances, lower gas prices and a higher level of consumer optimism have contributed to increase in holiday excursions.”
So it’s not expected to cost nearly as much to get where you’re going.
The nationwide average for gasoline is expected to dip below the $2-a-gallon mark for the first time in years by Thursday – a far cry from summer prices when people took to the roads for Fourth of July and Labor Day. California’s average, which is markedly higher than the rest of the country, is still continuing to decline daily.
The group is recommending against traveling out of the country for the holiday after the U.S. Department of State issued a worldwide travel warning to all citizens after it was announced that terrorist groups like Boko Haram and ISIS are planning attacks in various parts of the world.
“Because of heightened security measures taking place in major airports due to the recent terrorist bombings in Europe, AAA Travel advises worldwide caution for U.S. travelers,” Harris advised. “U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security.”
And those taking to the roads are urged to be cautious as well in all travel conditions.
A storm is expected to bring rain through Northern California today which could complicate some trips, and the California Highway Patrol is reminding people to obey all laws and plan accordingly – leaving early to compensate for delays. Last year there were 45 fatal accidents over the weekend and nearly 900 people were arrested for driving under the influence – a mark that was at its lowest point in a decade.
Drivers are encouraged to wear their seatbelt and not speed.