Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the heaviest traveled holidays of the year.
And with gas prices declining, travel experts expect more people than ever on the highways.
“With more people on the roads comes the potential for more problems,” said Eddie Russell, program coordinator for the North Alabama Highway Safety office in Tuscumbia. “It just stands to reason. The more cars, the more likely the chance of an accident.”
AAA projects more than 43 million people will travel this Thanksgiving season.
“Of those, 90 percent will be by car,” said Clay Ingram, a spokesman for AAA Alabama. “The Southeast is typically the busiest region in the country.”
Ingram said when you factor in the holiday with high school and college sports, it increases the chances for an accident.
“Add the fact that this is not only Thanksgiving but it kicks off the Christmas shopping season, there’s likely to be more traffic Friday than any other day of the holiday,” Russell said.
With the expected increase in traffic, area law enforcement agencies will have more patrols on the roads.
Capt. Joe Duncan, of the Quad-Cities state troopers post, said more troopers will be on the roads throughout the four-day holiday.
“We’re just trying to make sure everyone gets where they’re going safely and then gets back home,” Duncan said. “It’s all about safety, not writing tickets.”
Ingram said Thanksgiving travel hit a decade low in 2008 when 37.8 percent of Americans traveled.
“But since then, we have seen a steady increase of travelers. This year is going to be no different,” he said. “Starting Wednesday, there will be more and more people on the roads. And drivers need to be aware of this and make sure they are paying attention to their driving and the other drivers also.”
Florence Police Chief Ron Tyler hopes all travelers arrive at their destinations safely.
“We want drivers and their families to reach their destinations and return home safely rather than having to endure the grief associated with traffic accidents,” Tyler said. “I can’t stress enough how important it is to drive safely, buckle up, pay attention and don’t be distracted by texting or drinking and driving.”
Russell said he emphasizes the “two and two” method while driving.
“That’s two hands on the (steering) wheel and two eyes on the road,” he said. “If people do that, there’s a good chance they will get where they’re going and back home again safely.”
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.