Drivers be warned: These are the worst times to drive over Christmas


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Drivers be warned: These are the worst times to drive over Christmas

A record-breaking 107 million Americans are forecast to travel in one form or another this holiday season — and the majority of travelers (97.4 million) will hit the roads.

That’s according to a recent report from the AAA and global transportation analytics company INRIX, which stated peak road travel times during the holiday week (Dec. 23 through Jan. 1) could be as much as three times longer than the average trip.

What’s driving the increase of holiday travelers this year? According to the report, it comes down to a strong economy, low unemployment rates, rising wages and overall household net worth.

To ensure you’re not stuck in a traffic gridlock this year, we’ve put together some of the worst and best times to hit the road this year, thanks to historical data analysis from INRIX and community-based traffic and navigation app, Waze.

Worst days and times to travel:

In general, the most holiday congestion is expected on Wednesday, Dec. 20, Thursday, Dec. 21 and Friday, Dec. 22 in the late afternoon.

In Atlanta, the absolute worst days to travel are Thursday and Friday. The worst time to travel on Thursday is between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. According to INRIX, traffic in Atlanta at this time may nearly double your travel time.

If you travel Friday, national Waze data obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows congestion peaks between 3-5 p.m.

Best days and times to travel:

The best days to travel are on the holidays themselves. Between Dec. 22 and Jan. 4, Christmas Day has the least amount of traffic, historical Waze data found.

New Years Day is also a good option.

According to INRIX, the best times to hit the road in general during the holiday week are in the early morning or after the morning commute.

Worst times to do your last-minute gift and grocery shopping:

During the holiday week, navigations to grocery stores for forgotten ingredients and last-minute menu additions spike 61 percent compared to the average of the previous four weeks.

On Christmas Eve, which falls on a Sunday this year, grocery runs peak between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and last-minute shoppers typically hit the stores between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The good news is, however, that most out-of-towners reach their destinations prior to Christmas Eve.

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