Number of Thanksgiving drivers expected to be highest in over 10 years

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Thanksgiving menu is planned but have you thought about the route you’re going to take to get there? Holiday travel can be exciting but also terrifying and the roads are expected to be busy this year.

AAA expects the highest number of travelers for Thanksgiving since 2005 and Brandie Thomas, of Youngstown, believes it.

“I think it’s going to be worse. I think it’s going to be worse because the shopping and everything is going to make it very congested,” she said.

Forty-five million people are expected to drive at least an hour to where they’ll spend Thanksgiving.

The heaviest traffic times will be on Tuesday from 3 to 8 p.m. and all day on Wednesday and Sunday.

Most people won’t change their travel but quickly figure out when the worst time to be on the road is.

“Wednesday night, absolutely,” said Thaddeus Smith, of Canfield. “I used to live in Washington, D.C. Thursday morning, you could drive back. Wednesday night was horrific. Absolutely terrible.”

The Pennsylvania Turnpike expects 725,000 cars on the road Tuesday and Wednesday. That’s over 2,000 vehicles per mile.

The Ohio Turnpike plans to remove construction zones to help clear the road for Thanksgiving travel.

Michael Scerpella drives at night to go back to Wisconsin.

“I always have to go past Chicago, which is just a nightmare depending on what time you hit it,” he said. “I put myself going through Chicago around 9:30, 10, I know I’m going to make it no problem. That city is just awful.”

Gas prices are the highest at Thanksgiving in four years. They’re 41 cents higher than last year but the average locally is below the $2.54 across the nation.

“They were cheaper a while ago but lately, just ignoring it because I have to do it. I can’t not get home. My wife’s there, she’s pregnant so I gotta go so I’ll pay whatever I need to get back,” Scerpella said.

Think of it this way — for every 100 cars you see on the road for Thanksgiving, at least three of them weren’t there last year.

“Just try to be patient because everybody is trying to get somewhere but everybody needs to get there safe,” Thomas said.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol issued a reminder for drivers to follow traffic laws, never drive impaired, and make sure everyone in their car wears a seat belt.