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Holiday Roads

The ten-day, year-end travel period means slower travel times on congested roads. Here‘s what to expect when traveling during the holidays.

Holiday traffic on highway

I’ll be home for Christmas
you can plan on me.

—Kim Gannon and Walter Kent

Are you planning a road trip during the upcoming holidays? If so, you’ll be among the 104 million Americans driving at least 50 miles from home during the ten-day travel period beginning December 23. According to the AAA, that’s a 1.8 percent increase over last year and the second-highest number since before the pandemic.

Not surprisingly, transportation experts warn that driving durations could average up to 20 percent longer than previous year-end travel seasons. Mobility solutions provider INRIX predicts roadway congestion will be at its worst on Saturday, December 23, and Thursday, December 28, with drivers heading to and from holiday destinations. Saturday, December 30, will also see higher vehicle traffic than a typical Saturday.

There are some steps you can take to minimize holiday travel road delays.

  • INRIX recommends avoiding peak commuting hours by traveling on roads before lunchtime and after 7:00 p.m.
  • Use traffic apps and area Department of Transportation notifications to locate—and avoid—congestion.
  • You can get up-to-the-minute road and weather information in many states by dialing 511. Calls get routed to the region in which the traveler is driving.

Above all, expect to have delays. Drive times in major metropolitan areas could take 50 percent longer than usual. Building extra time into your schedule helps prevent frustration and reduces the chances of accidents.