PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The holiday travel rush begins today and it could be the busiest day of the week.
This year, AAA projects more than 48 million people will travel to their Thanksgiving destination. That would make this the busiest Thanksgiving travel week in nine years.
Most of those people will be hitting the roads.
The good news is that gas prices are down nationwide. However, we’re still paying more than most at an average of $2.40 for a gallon of regular unleaded.
According to Turnpike officials, an estimated 3.45 million drivers will use the toll road from Nov. 22 through Nov. 27.
The heaviest traffic is expected from 3 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday and from noon until 8 p.m. on Sunday.
State police will be patrolling the Turnpike, making sure motorists are obeying speed limits and staying off their phones.
“With millions of vehicles on the roadway over the holiday, motorists now more than ever need to keep their hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road while driving,” said Captain Paul S. Gustaitis, Commanding Officer of State Police Troop T. “Our troopers will be patrolling the Turnpike looking for people texting while driving to stop that kind of behavior.”
But the heightened patrols are not just on the interstates. Moon Township officers were sending a message Tuesday afternoon on Coroapolis Heights Road.
“Unfortunately, that roadway has seen a dramatic increase in traffic accidents over the last couple of years,” said Moon Township Police Chief Leo McCarthy.
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And when traffic volumes increase, so do crashes. So, for the next 24 hours, expect to see all the area DUI task forces out in force.
Thanksgiving Eve is now the number one night for drunk driving.
“People are returning home, they’re seeing family, they’re seeing friends, and they gather together and go to parties and functions. They’re doing that kind of thing,” said Moon Township Police Sgt. Doug Ogden.
DUI checkpoints and roving patrols will be active throughout the region, especially Wednesday night.
If you’re flying, expect congestion at airports, too.
This year’s Thanksgiving travel period is expected to be the busiest ever for airlines. A record of 27 million passengers will take to the air through Nov. 29.
Airport officials say your best bet, as always, is get to the airport early and pack your patience.
If you’re headed through Pittsburgh International Airport, visit their website here to check Arrival and Departure times.