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AAA: Almost 2.3 Million Ohioans Plan to Travel this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving AAA estimates more than 2.2 million Ohioans will travel for the holiday – that is 2.3% more than the previous year. Of those traveling, more than 1.9 million Ohioans will travel by car, nearly 232,000 by plane and another 65,000 are traveling by other means, which includes rail. This will be the third-highest Thanksgiving travel volume in Ohio since AAA began tracking in 2000, trailing the record set of 2.4 million in 2005.

INRIX reports the three days leading up to Thanksgiving – Nov. 20-22 – are the worst times to travel due to congested routes. The worst travel day is expected to be Wednesday, Nov. 22.

Ohio’s metro areas are expected to busy also as travelers get to their holiday destinations.

Columbus Metro Area:

NUMBER OF TRAVELERS2023 TravelersPercent of population travelingPercent change vs. 2022
Columbus Metro Area TOTAL(Franklin, Delaware, Licking, Madison, Pickaway, Fairfield)Auto, Air & Other389,20819.5%+2.3%
Columbus Metro Area Auto339,30917.0%+1.4%
Columbus Metro Area Air39,9192.0%+9.0%
Columbus Metro Other(train, bus, cruise, etc.)11,9760.6%+10.9%

Dayton Metro Area:

NUMBER OF TRAVELERS2023 TravelersPercent of population travelingPercent change vs. 2022
Dayton Metro Area TOTAL(Montgomery, Miami, Greene, Clark)Auto, Air & Other184,74819.5%+2.3%
Dayton Metro Area Auto161,06217.0%+1.4%
Dayton Metro Area Air18,9492.0%+9.0%
Dayton Metro Other(train, bus, cruise, etc.)5,6850.6%+10.9%

Toledo Metro Area:

NUMBER OF TRAVELERS2023 TravelersPercent of population travelingPercent change vs. 2022
Toledo Metro Area TOTAL(Fulton, Lucas, Ottawa, Wood)Auto, Air & Other124,87519.5%+2.3%
Toledo Metro Area Auto108,86517.0%+1.4%
Toledo Metro Area Air12,8082.0%+9.0%
Toledo Metro Other(train, bus, cruise, etc.)3,8420.6%+10.9%

Overall, more than 55 million travelers are making plans to kick off the holiday season with a trip of 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving. An additional 1.2 million more people will travel compared with last year, a 2.3 percent increase. The majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations and, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, expects Wednesday afternoon to be the worst travel period nationally, with trips taking as much at four times longer than normal in major metros.

“Travel experts says despite the increase in consumer goods and services, travel has not taken a dip,” said Kara Hitchens, AAA spokesperson. “This is translating into more travelers kicking off the holiday season with a Thanksgiving getaway.”

The Thanksgiving holiday period is defined as Wednesday, November 22 to Sunday, Nov. 26.

Money savings:

Gas prices are lower than last year in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

Those planning to travel on the Ohio Turnpike, can save time and money by using the E-ZPass program. Drivers can visit one of six AAA locations across Northwest Ohio to purchase an E-ZPass Transponder. Travelers can save an average of 30 percent on their Ohio Turnpike toll with E-ZPass.

AAA reminds motorists before venturing to put away distractions and focus on the roads. The new distracted driving law makes it a primary offense and one that law enforcement can stop drivers and cite them. 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.These numbers likely underestimate the problem because most drivers do not admit to distracting cell phone use after a crash.

AAA and its traffic safety partners remind drivers to observe the Move Over law and give those working along the roadside room to do their jobs. Move Over laws exist in all 50 states to protect first responders, law enforcement personnel, DOT workers, and tow truck operators.

By the numbers: 2023 Thanksgiving travel forecast

  • Overall: There will be 1.2 million more people or 2.3% more traveling this year compared to 2022 numbers for a total of 55.4 million people.
  • Automobiles: 49.1 million travelers will hit the road this Thanksgiving, the most since 2005 and 1.7% more than last year.
  • Planes: With 6.6
  • Air travel will see an increase in travel volume during the Thanksgiving holiday, with 4.7 million Americans expected to fly. That’s an 6.6% increase compared to 2022.
  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel by other modes will reach 1.5 million, an increase of nearly 11 percent from 2022.

Nothing worse than Wednesday: Times NOT to be on the road

For the 49.1 million Americans traveling by automobile, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts major delays throughout the week, peaking Wednesday with trips taking as much four times longer as commuters mix with travelers.

“With record levels of travelers, and persistent population growth in the country’s major metropolitan areas, drivers must prepare for major delays,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the week.”

Lower gas prices fuel road trips:

Gas prices have been slowly dropping as of late, but are currently cheaper than the national average at this time last year, giving Americans a little extra money to spend on travel and motivating millions to take road trips. For Ohioans the news is even better at about 40 cents cheaper than the national average.

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