More than 1.6 million Georgians expected to hit the road for Thanksgiving



More than 1.6 million Georgians are expected to travel more than 50 miles during the week of Thanksgiving, up 14,000 from last year, according to the AAA auto club.

That’s more travelers than in nearly two decades, even with higher gas prices, AAA said. That means those taking holiday trips should pack patience and plan ahead before hitting the road, according to law enforcement agencies. Thanksgiving week often proves to be a deadly one on Georgia’s roads.

“Travel is still roaring back from the pandemic,” Debbie Haas, vice president of travel for AAA, said in a statement. “While gas prices and other inflationary pressures weigh on budgets, travel remains a top priority for Americans, particularly during the holidays. Travel spending is at the highest level since the pandemic began, which is a driving force behind our projections this year. AAA expects busy roads and long lines at the airport, so leave early and be flexible with your travel plans.”

Even those staying in town rather than taking road trips can expect heavier traffic throughout the week, according to experts.

“The day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year. Traffic will significantly increase, causing congestion and delays,” Col. Christopher Wright, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said in a statement. “Travelers should prepare for the inevitable to avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

Last year, crashes killed 20 people on Georgia roads during the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to the DPS. From 2014 to 2021, 136 people died in crashes on Georgia roads during the Thanksgiving holiday. In many of those crashes, alcohol and speed were contributing factors, according to investigators.

Among the 2021 deadly crashes, six were reported in metro Atlanta, including wrecks in DeKalb County and Henry County, the DPS said. State troopers and local law enforcement agencies will be patrolling the roads in force.

“Troopers and officers will be highly visible and focused on the key factors that cause crashes, including impaired driving, speeding, distracted and unsafe driving, as well as seatbelt violations. High-visibility patrols on the interstates and secondary roads throughout the state will help reduce traffic crashes and deter unsafe driving behaviors, keeping Georgia’s roadways safe for our residents and guests,” Wright said.

According to the transportation analytics company INRIX, travelers should avoid hitting the road during peak hours, including Wednesday from noon to 8 p.m. On Thursday through Sunday, expect the most drivers on the road in the afternoon hours.

“Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year will be no different,” said Bob Pishue, INRIX transportation analyst. “Although travel times will peak on Wednesday afternoon nationally, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the holiday weekend. Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

Routine car maintenance is key for those planning trips, including a full tank of gas and properly inflated tires, according to Ashley Frasca, WSB traffic reporter.

“Everyone on the road with you wants to arrive safely and on time, too, so allow yourself plenty of time to get to your destination and don’t follow too closely in traffic,” Frasca said.


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