Prepare for busiest highways ever at holidays

Graphic by AAAGraphic by AAA

Things are about to get even crazier on the nation’s highways, truckers.

AAA is forecasting the upcoming year-end holiday travel period will be the busiest on record. Some 107.3 million Americans will be traveling between Saturday, Dec. 23 and Monday, Jan.1, a 3.1 percent increase over last year.

And, AAA says most of them — 97.4 million — will be going over the river and through the woods right alongside you on the nation’s streets, roads and interstates.

2017 marks the ninth consecutive year of rising year-end holiday travel, said AAA in a news release recently. Since 2005, total year-end holiday travel volume has grown by 21.6 million, an increase of more than 25 percent.

Graphic by AAAGraphic by AAA

“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metros,” says Dr. Graham Cookson, chief economist and head of research at INRIX, a global transportation analytics company. “Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak times altogether or consider alternative routes.”

Based on historical and recent travel trends, INRIX expects drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion before the holiday week – on Wednesday, Dec. 20 and Thursday, Dec. 21 – in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. For example, drivers in New York City could see travel times peak at three times a normal trip between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.

AAA suggests these are the busiest travel times in 10 major metro area:

  • New York, Wednesday, Dec. 20 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Los Angeles, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Washington, D.C., Thursday Dec. 21, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • San Francisco, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Chicago, Thursday, Dec. 21, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Boston, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • Seattle, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Atlanta, Thursday, Dec. 21, 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
  • Houston, Wednesday, Dec. 20, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Detroit, Thursday, Dec. 21, 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.