Local News

Want to avoid the traffic this Thanksgiving? Here are the best times to travel, says AAA

Posted November 24, 2021 10:10 a.m. EST
Updated November 24, 2021 11:47 a.m. EST

— The American Automobile Association expects that more people are expected to travel for Thanksgiving this year than in 2019. Nearly 1.5 million North Carolinians are expected to travel, AAA predicts.

If you're planning to hit the road for Thanksgiving, here's when the AAA says it's best time to go:

  • Wednesday after 9 p.m.
  • Thursday before 11 a.m.
  • Friday before 11 a.m.
  • Saturday and Sunday before 12 p.m.

Heavy traffic Wednesday morning was complicated by crashes that caused delays on Interstate 40 at Wade Avenue, near Exit. 289, and on Interstate 95 in Cumberland County at mile marker 58, near Interstate 295.

The traditional “ham jam” – cars lined up for pickup from Honey Baked Ham Company locations in Cary and on Raleigh’s Six Forks Road – began to form in the early hours of Wednesday.

Before hitting the road, AAA suggests that you make sure your car is working. Check your brakes, battery and make sure you have a spare tire.

Atlanta and Washington, D.C. are expected to experience heavy congestion on Wednesday, according to AAA. Interstate 85 South in Atlanta is expected to 340% more cars on the road Wednesday afternoon.

The Durham Police Department is going to have more officers on the road Wednesday as part of their annual Thanksgiving speed limit enforcement operation.

Officers will be patrolling Interstate 85 in Durham County at around 9 a.m. Wednesday, which is one of the most dangerous areas in the county. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says in 2019 more than 9,000 died nationwide in crashes involving speeding

Drivers are also sensitive to the rising cost of gas. Some of the cheapest gas in the area is in Knightdale and on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh at $2.85 a gallon.

Gas cost on average $1.94 in North Carolina last year and $2.14 a gallon the year before that.

On top of that, the price to stay in a hotel has increased by nearly 40% this year with average rates between $137 to $172.

Grocery store shortages

Many people were rushing to do last-minute Thanksgiving shopping on Wednesday.

Experts say that turkey, cranberry sauce and other Thanksgiving favorites are in short supply, which means shoppers may not be able to find everything they need at the store this year.

Thanksgiving dinner will cost 14% more this year, according to new survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation. Dinner for a family of 10 will cost on average $53.31 — up $6.41 from last year's average of $46.90 which was down 4% from 2019, the lowest in 10 years.

Several factors led to this year's increased pricing, including more Americans expected to cook at home as well as economic disruptions.

Coronavirus recommendations

Fully vaccinated families can safely enjoy the holidays mask-free, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert.

"Get vaccinated and you can enjoy the holidays very easily. And if you're not, please be careful," he told CNN.

Dr. Keith Armitage, an infectious disease expert at Case Western Reserve University, said that vaccinated people should still wear a mask in large, indoor crowds.

“The delta variant has really brought us back to an earlier time in the pandemic,” he told the Associated Press.

A local doctor is strongly encouraging at-home COVID-19 testing before gathering for Thanksgiving -- even for those who are vaccinated.

Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist at UNC Health, said, if someone is planning to be with family or friends from outside their household, testing should be considered.

Quick at-home tests found at CVS and Walgreens can be performed on Thanksgiving Day, delivering results in 15 minutes. WRAL News found tests at both stores for $23.99.

"If you are gathering with a group of people from multiple households and potentially from different parts of the country, you could consider additional precautions," the CDC says.

If you think you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, experts with UNC Health say do not participate in any in-person events.

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