LIMA — The Ohio Department of Transportation expects for holiday traveling to be at its highest peak in more than a decade over the Thanksgiving weekend based on a variety of factors.
In a press release issued by the ODOT, the organization said that AAA predicts that the travel volume between today and Sunday will be just over 2 million, the highest amount since 2005. The majority of those travelers will be traveling more than 50 miles, and 90 percent will be driving to their destinations — meaning crowded roadways.
“Ongoing and active construction projects will also impact traffic throughout the state,” said ODOT press secretary Matt Bruning, “but ODOT will try to reduce their impact as much as possible over the weekend.”
Bruning said ODOT is asking travelers to be careful and pay attention as there have been nearly 5,000 work zone crashes this year, including 26 deaths and 150 serious injuries.
A listing of the various construction areas is available at ohgo.com.
AAA reported that the main factors for the increased travel include rising wages, increased consumer spending, and stabilized gas prices.
“One million more Americans than last year will carve out time to visit with family and friends this Thanksgiving,” said AAA president Marshall Doney. “Most will travel on the tried and true holiday road trip, thanks to gas prices that are holding close to $2 per gallon.”
AAA said it is expected that 370,000 people will request roadside assistance during the holiday due to dead batteries, flat tires or lockouts, and recommended that motorists plan ahead and prepare their vehicle for travel.
People taking flights to holiday destination are also expected to be higher. About 3.7 million Americans will be taking flights, including a predicted 144,000 Ohioans. The AAA leisure index predicted an average of $205 for a round trip ticket, a 21 percent increase from last year. Lodging is expected to be in the range of $123-$155 per night and daily car rentals are expected to be at about $52 per day.
InsureMyTrip.com said that air travelers can have a more pleasant holiday by comparing travel insurance policies and avoiding busier airports when traveling.
“Our data indicates that when travelers are made aware of the probability of delays, they are more likely to compare and buy travel delay benefits during a purchase, said InsureMyTrip data analyst Melissa Caldarone.
The Lima-Allen County Safe Community Coalition reported that local law enforcement would be out in full force to enforce safe driving, including seat belt use, impaired driving, speeding and other risky behaviors. They recommended that travelers take the following precautions:
• If you choose to drink, don’t drive.
• Plan a safe way home before drinking.
• Choose a designated driver.
• Call a taxi, a sober friend or family member or use public transportation.
• Take the keys from someone who is about to drive impaired and make arrangements for them to get home safely.
• Use seat belts.
While gas prices have inched up recently in Ohio, they still remain relatively low.
“As motorists pack their bags to head out for Thanksgiving, gas prices are falling over much of the country,” said GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan, “but no matter what eventually takes place with an upcoming OPEC meeting, motorists are virtually guaranteed another year of gas prices that will remain well under record highs.”
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter@LanceMihm