AAA forecasts increase in Thanksgiving travelers
31,000 more Marylanders expected to be on move
Nearly 31,000 more Marylanders will travel this Thanksgiving holiday, AAA Mid-Atlantic said today, a 3 percent increase over last year and the highest travel volume predicted in more than a decade.
Nationally, 48.7 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home — a 1.9 percent increase over last year. AAA defined the holiday period as Nov. 23 through Nov. 27.
Animproving economy has encouraged more families to drive, fly and travel by train, said Ragina Cooper Averella, the public and government affairs manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. Factors include rising wages and increases in consumer confidence and spending, she said.
“Consistent with what we’ve seen for other holidays throughout this year, Thanksgiving is not disappointing,” she said. “Positive economic factors as well as relatively low gas prices could be playing a significant role.”
Fuel prices remain relatively low — a gallon of regular unleaded gas averaged $2.20 per gallon in Maryland Monday and $2.17 nationally, according to AAA. That’s 11 and 12 cents higher, respectively, than last year’s Thanksgiving average.
In Maryland, 91 percent of the anticipated 1,030,300 travelers are expected to drive, 7 percent to fly, and 2 percent to travel by train, bus or boat.
State Highway Administration spokesman David Buck urged travelers to plan alternate routes in case of gridlock.
In recent years, the notorious traffic on Wednesday before Thanksgiving has expanded into Tuesday.
Travelers can expect the worst traffic from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, and 1:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 23, Buck said.
“The key, absolutely, is to try and stay away from that four-hour window on Tuesday and that six-or-so-hour window on Wednesday,” he said.