With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, many Michiganders are finalizing travel plans for the long holiday weekend.
AAA of Michigan reported more than 1.7 million Michiganders will be traveling “Over the River and Through the Wood‘ to their grandparents or some other destination during the Thanksgiving holiday this year. Nationwide, more than 55 million travelers are making plans to kick off the holiday season with a trip of 50 miles or more away from home, according to AAA.
For this forecast, AAA said the Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as the five days from Wednesday, Nov. 27-Sunday, Dec. 1.
This will be the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000, trailing only the record set in 2005. Overall, an additional 1.6 million more people nationally will travel compared with last year, a 2.9% increase. The vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations and, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects the afternoon of Nov. 27 to be the worst travel period nationally, with trips taking as much at four times longer than normal in major metro areas.
“Millions of thankful Americans are starting the holiday season off right with a Thanksgiving getaway,‘ AAA spokesperson Adrienne Woodland said. “Strong economic fundamentals are motivating Americans to venture out this holiday in near-record numbers. 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.‘
Cadillac Michigan State Police Sgt. Paul Stone said with more people expected to be traveling during the holiday weekend it is a good idea to leave a little ahead of time. That way, Stone said you won't be in a hurry and can drive below the posted speed limit if that is what the weather calls for. He also suggested to let family members know your travel plans.
Finally, Stone said before heading out on the road you should check your vehicle to make sure it is running properly and make sure your tires do not require replacement. Having a travel emergency kit with items such as jumper cables, flares or reflective triangle, ice scraper, blankets and snacks in case you end up stranded for a while on the side of the road.
"Our focus is on traffic safety. We try to put our nonpriority investigations to the side and get out on the road to stay visible," Stone said. "As always, we are focused on speeding and distracted driving."
For the 49.3 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts major delays throughout the week, peaking Nov. 27 with trips taking as much four times longer as commuters mix with travelers.
“With record levels of travelers, and persistent population growth in the country’s major metropolitan areas, drivers must prepare for major delays,‘ Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX, said. “Although travel times will peak on (Nov. 27) afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the week.‘
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, according to AAA. For the majority of Americans, AAA expects gas prices to be fairly similar to last year's Thanksgiving holiday, which averaged $2.57 a gallon.
Meanwhile, more than 368,000 motorists will call AAA for assistance at the roadside this Thanksgiving holiday. Dead batteries, flat tires, and lockouts will be the leading reasons AAA members will experience car trouble. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicles to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out on a road trip. And remember to slow down and move over for stopped emergency vehicles at the roadside.