Near-record numbers of motorists expected for Thanksgiving holiday period

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(WTVG) - AAA estimates nearly 2.3 million Ohioans will travel during the Thanksgiving holiday period, the second highest since AAA began tracking in 2000.

About 89 percent of Ohio travelers are expected to drive to their destinations. ODOT expects a 63 percent increase in traffic during the holiday weekend; with the extra traffic, ODOT will suspend roadwork and open as many lanes as possible.

The organization has identified a handful of hot spots motorists might want to avoid, if possible, including the I-71 corridor in Columbus and I-94 and I-75 in Detroit.

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 27 through Sunday, December 1. The worst travel day is expected to be Wednesday, with trips taking as much as four times longer than normal in major metro areas.

Nationally, more than 55 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from home.

By the numbers: 2019 Thanksgiving travel forecast
• Automobiles: 49.3 million travelers will hit the road this Thanksgiving, the most since 2005 and 2.8 percent more than last year.
• Planes: With 4.6 percent growth, air travel will see the biggest increase in travel volume during the Thanksgiving holiday, with 4.45 million Americans expected to fly.
• Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel by other modes will reach 1.49 million, a slight increase of 1.4 percent from 2018.

With so many taking to the roadways, AAA reminds motorists to avoid distractions, never drive impaired and slow down and move over for roadside emergency vehicles.

Distracted driving kills an average of nine people and injures 1,000 each day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is the third leading driver-related cause of crash fatalities behind speeding and driving under the influence.

Impaired driving risks also increase during the holidays. The combination of holiday celebrations and increased numbers hitting the roadways can result in a deadly combination during the holidays.

AAA reminds motorists never to drive impaired and arrange for a safe ride before celebrating with alcoholic beverages. During the Thanksgiving holiday in 2018, there were 175 OVI-related crashes in Ohio with two fatalities.