CALIFORNIA (KERO) — With the Thanksgiving holiday arriving next week, many will be making trips to visit loved ones. John Liu, the Deputy District Director of Maintenance and Traffic for the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) recommends getting an early start and avoiding the most hectic travel times.
"When you are on the highway the day before Thanksgiving, your trip is going to take several hours longer if you have to go to LA or San Francisco," said Liu. "If you can delay your travel to actually Thanksgiving morning or maybe earlier in the day on Thanksgiving eve or the day before."
From rain and snow to valley fog, weather is one of the biggest hazards on the road, especially when paired with another common cause of collisions: distracted driving.
"We need that focus to be 100 percent on driving," said Sgt. Robert Montano of the California Highway Patrol (CHP). "The minute you take your eyes off the road to look down, or change the radio, or take a bite to eat, that’s when something bad can happen. And the more we know, the higher possibility we can prevent something like that from happening."
Officials also want you to be prepared by winterizing your car. Make sure you pack blankets, water, and snacks, along with emergency supplies like flares, portable charging devices, and chains if you're going to the snow.
According to AAA, this year is predicted to be the third busiest for Thanksgiving travel since the year 2000, with nearly 49 million people driving 50 miles or more from home. While Thanksgiving road trips have slightly risen, up 0.4 percent from 2021, car travel remains 2.5 percent below 2019 levels.
Air travel is up nearly 8 percent over 2021, with 4.5 million Americans flying to their Thanksgiving destinations this year. That’s an increase of more than 330,000 travelers and nearly 99 percent of the 2019 volume, so anticipate long TSA lines. Experts suggest avoiding checking a bag to allow for more flexibility if flights are delayed.