2.2 million Georgians expected to hit the road for Thanksgiving holiday

‘One of the busiest Thanksgivings on record’
Metro Atlanta interstates are expected to be packed with travelers as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)



Metro Atlanta interstates are expected to be packed with travelers as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Lots of us are headed over the river and through the woods this week.

An estimated 2.2 million Georgians will travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving, an increase of 35,000 over last year, according to the AAA auto club.

That’s the second-highest number of travelers since 2005, AAA said. Those taking holiday trips should pack patience and plan ahead, according to law enforcement agencies.

“Travel demand has been strong all year and that trend will continue with one of the busiest Thanksgivings on record,” Debbie Haas, vice president of travel for AAA, said in a media release. “Travelers should expect congested roads and longer lines at transportation terminals. AAA encourages travelers to develop their plan now, leave early, and be courteous to others.”

The majority of Georgia travelers, or roughly 1.5 million, will be driving. The day before Thanksgiving is typically the busiest on the roads and state and local law enforcement agencies advise motorists to drive safely and pack patience.

“The Georgia Department of Public Safety will show an increased focus on patrolling the interstates and highways this Thanksgiving season to deter unsafe driving behaviors and reduce crashes,” Lt. Colonel William W. Hitchens said. “Administrative duties will be restricted during that time to direct increased personnel to those efforts. Remember, Thanksgiving is meant to be spent with family and friends, and you can only do that by arriving safely. However, if you do experience an emergency during your travels and need immediate assistance, please dial *GSP (*477).”

Last year, 18 people were killed on Georgia roads during the Thanksgiving holiday period, which runs from Wednesday at 6 p.m. until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, according to the DPS. Troopers investigated 749 crashes that injured 401 people and arrested 390 people for driving under the influence.

Before leaving home, motorists can make sure they are doing their part to keep the roadways safe, Hitchens said.

“Do a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle, obey the posted speed limit, wear your seatbelt, do not drive impaired or distracted and please be patient as you travel,” he said.

The Georgia Department of Transportation will suspend lane closures on Georgia interstates, major state routes and roads near major shopping centers, malls, or districts beginning at 5 a.m. on Wednesday until 10 p.m. on Nov. 26.

Even for those not planning trips, expect congested roadways around metro Atlanta during the holiday period, including on Black Friday in retail areas.

One positive note for those taking road trips: Gas prices are down this year compared to 2022, AAA reports. Last Thanksgiving, the national average price for gasoline was $3.58 per gallon, while the Georgia average was $3.06. On Sunday, the average price per gallon was $2.85 in Georgia. AAA believes gas prices should remain low through the holiday season unless oil prices suddenly spike.


1. Obey the posted speed limit.

2. Do not drive impaired. Consider a rideshare service or designate a sober driver.

3. Buckle up. Make sure children are properly restrained, too.

4. Pay attention. Limit distractions and remain hands-free of phones.

5. Plan your trip. Minimize stops and pack an emergency roadside kit.

Source: Georgia Department of Public Safety