By Kevin Frazzini
Tomorrow, as we take time to give thanks, many of us will take to the road, skies, rails and waterways.
How many? In its annual Thanksgiving travel forecast, AAA projects that 54.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home for the holiday, a 4.8 percent increase over last year.
Not since 2005 has traffic volume over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend—defined as Wednesday, Nov. 21, through Sunday, Nov. 25—been higher. By far, most people are making their pilgrimage by car—48.5 million. They should expect delays, according to INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, which predicts that travel in the most congested U.S. cities could take as much as four times longer than usual.
Here are some trimmings from AAA’s holiday-weekend forecast:
Automobiles: 48.5 million travelers, nearly 5 percent more than last year.
Planes: 4.27 million travelers, making air travel the sector with the largest growth, at 5.4 percent.
Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: 1.48 million passengers, a 1.4 percent increase over last year.
Worst Peak Travel Time to an Airport: 1 hour, 37 minutes from downtown Chicago to O'Hare Airport via the Kennedy Expressway. New York City ranks a close second, with a peak travel time of 1 hour, 19 minutes from downtown to JFK via the Long Island Expressway.
National Average Gas Price: $2.79 per gallon as of Nov. 1, the highest Thanksgiving gas price in four years and 31 cents more than a year ago.
Finally, AAA also cautions feast-makers that cooking caused half of residential building fires in 2015, and that more home fires occur on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. The sheer number of cooks hitting the kitchen makes the risk of a Thanksgiving home fire three times higher than on an average day, with the No. 1 cause of fires being kitchens left unattended. You can find AAA’s list of safety tips here.
No matter how you celebrate Thanksgiving or how you plan to get there, NCSL wishes you a happy, not-fiery one!
Kevin Frazzini is the assistant editor of State Legislatures magazine.