BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — AAA reports that more than 55 million people will be traveling during the Thanksgiving period, making it the second-highest Thanksgiving travel volume since AAA began tracking in 2000.
AAA Alabama spokesperson Clay Ingram said about 90% of those traveling are doing that by automobile, but plane travel has grown by almost 5%.
“The result is going to really busy highways wherever you’re headed. You combine that with the shoppers who will be out, the football traffic, the drive-through traffic that we get here in Alabama,” said Ingram. “There will be a lot of people headed down to Florida, to the Orlando area, even the beaches. A lot of people are taking cruises out of a port in Florida so we’ll see a lot of out of state license plates across the state over the next week or so.”
Ingram said the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is usually the heaviest travel day and then the Sunday after.
At UAB, experts at the TRIP Lab, also known as the Translational Research for Injury Prevention Laboratory, say Thanksgiving is the deadliest holiday on the roads. At UAB, they have a SUV simulator that helps them research different scenarios that could happen while driving.
Dr. Ben McManus at UAB advises drivers who are traveling on Wednesday to be extra careful.
“The Wednesday before Thanksgiving since people are off Thanksgiving, we find we’ve seen an increase in what’s called ‘Blacked-out Wednesday’ which is people use that Wednesday to drink heavily, and of course we see an increase in impaired driving on Wednesday night and the next morning,” said Dr. McManus.
Dr. McManus suggests having your route ready to go as research has shown that distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.