COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) -- For the second year in a row, AAA is predicting the highest Thanksgiving travel numbers in a decade. More than 2.2 million Ohioans are planning to travel between Wednesday and Sunday.
According to Ohio Auto Club’s Kimberly Schwind, huge numbers of people will be on the road. “The highest since 2005 and the second highest on record,” said Schwind.
“If you look back about ten years, when the recession hit, we saw the lowest Thanksgiving travel volume. Now since then we have really continued to climb up as the economy continues to improve.
Unemployment is lower. People are making more money. They have more disposable income. They are more confident in the economy so they are spending their money on things like travel,” Schwind said.
Prices at the pump are not keeping most people from taking Thanksgiving road trips. AAA said the cost of gas has dropped over the past few weeks. “When we were talking about Memorial Day travel we had gas prices near three dollars a gallon. So gas prices now are a little lower, low to mid 2 dollar range, so palatable for most travelers,” said Schwind.
With extra traffic expected, ODOT said they will suspend roadwork and open as many lanes as possible. But drivers are urged to pay special attention in work zones.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol is adding troopers who will be looking for impaired drivers. Lt. Robert Sellers said the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is known as one of the biggest drinking days of the year.
“Here in Ohio, a third of our fatalities are OVI related,”said Sellers.
ODOT said they will be sending messages on the travel alert boards, but including some humor to get their point across. “Don’t drive sauced. Leave that for the cranberries,” said spokesman Matt Bruning.
“Today on the roadways we are pushing a seat belt message. We know that of the 16 people killed last year in Ohio during the Thanksgiving holiday. Seven of them were not wearing seat belts. So we have used the fun creative message of ‘turkey says buckle buckle’ to remind people to buckle up,” said Bruning.
Travelers who take to the sky need to remember there may be increased drive times to the airport and plan for long security lines.
Airports will see some 4.27 Americans, including nearly 185,000 Ohioans flying. This marks an increase of 6.3 percent in Ohio over last year and the highest number on record in Ohio.