AAA, INRIX: Drivers Should Leave Early This Thanksgiving

Everything is up for drivers this Thanksgiving holiday.

Traffic is expected to be up, law enforcement will be up and even gas prices are up.

And if motorists want to avoid spending the majority of their holiday stuck in traffic, two automobile related services are encouraging drivers to start their trips sooner than later.

Wednesday–The Great Escape

Not surprisingly, Wednesday is expected to be the busiest travel day of the Thanksgiving holiday.

AAA say 45% of all travelers plan on leaving Wednesday, with 36% planning on returning Sunday.

“All day Wednesday will be ‘get-away’ day with Sunday typically the return day,” says Steven Haas, veteran traffic reporter for News Radio 780. “It will probably be worse on Wednesday, with folks returning gradually, over the weekend.”

INRIX Traffic, which provides traffic information data, recently ranked Chicago fourth in their report of the nation’s busiest holiday traffic hot spots. INRIX suggests holiday travelers should hit the road no later than 2 PM.

AAA concurs with the 2 PM rule for a smoother, faster road trip. They say if you leave after 2 PM your trip will take an average 26% more time than if you left before that time.

More Cars On The Road

According to AAA, more cars will be traveling this year than last.

AAA projects 2.08 million Illinois residents will be traveling in 2012, a mild 0.6% increase over last year. Nationally, this is the fourth consecutive year of increased Thanksgiving holiday travel after a steep 25% decrease in travel nationally in 2008 when the recession was at its height.

“Thanksgiving travel hit a decade low in 2008 when only 37.8 million Americans traveled,” said AAA Chicago Regional President Brad Roeber. “Since that year we have seen a steady increase in the number of travelers taking to the roads and skies for the holiday. ”

AAA attributes the less than 1% increase in automobile travelers for the holidays to gas prices finally coming back down to somewhat normal prices and the economy a bit stronger.

Increased Traffic Enforcement

At a Tuesday morning press conference at the State of Illinois Building, Lt. Paul Riggio promised drivers the Illinois State Police will be out patrolling all state roads during the holiday and will be looking for drunk drivers and enforcing seat belt laws.

“We want to insure everyone reaches their final destination,” said Riggio. “Even one fatality is one too many to the ISP.”

Last year Riggio says the ISP made 171 DUI arrests, issued tickets to 2800 speeders, 850 safety belt violations, 40 distracted drivers and 57 instances of carrying open alcohol.

Also at the press conference, Sgt. Scott Slavin, said the Chicago Police Department is planning heavy enforcement as well this holiday.

“We will be out in full force this weekend,” said Slavin. “If you are driving drunk you will be arrested. If you’re driving without a seatbelt you be stopped and cited.”

According to IDOT eight people died on Illinois roadways last Thanksgiving weekend with 50% of the fatal crashes involving alcohol.

Gas Prices Higher Than Last Year

While fuel prices have been declining rapidly from the unexpected high this past summer and early fall, gas prices are still a bit more expensive than for this time last year.

Both AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report and gas price tracking website says the average price for unleaded gasoline in the greater Chicagoland area is around nine cents higher than Thanksgiving 2011.

8 Responses to AAA, INRIX: Drivers Should Leave Early This Thanksgiving

  1. DoR Employee says:

    Everyone have a happy Turkey Day!

    But please remember…meter enforcement does happen on holidays (you can bet CPM will have them out there).

    And City PEA’s will be working on Friday…so please, keep that in mind.

  2. David says:

    They were working today. I saw a Laz truck on Lawrence at Kedie merrily ticketing away at 9 am. Enforcing parking on Thanksgiving days unamerican.

  3. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Yes, Chicago Parking Meters has the right to ticket on Thanksgiving and other holidays, but it is rather unseemly to actually exercise that right and ticket on Thanksgiving, etal.

    Hope everyone has/had a nice Thanksgiving.

  4. DoR Employee says:

    David et al…

    Blame Daley and the remaining members of his last city council for the loss of Holidays and Sundays for free metered parking. It wasn’t CPM that made the change… But you can bet they were salivating over it.

    I was downtown for the parade yesterday and saw about 4 of them checking meters on the streets that weren’t shut down.

    And David ….it actually is American….the pursuit of revenue and capitalism at its finest.

  5. David says:

    Former DOR employee wrote something about the pursuit of revenue being American.

    My comment: Wow. The GOP meme is really taking over. Is capitalism important? Yup. But it is not the thing, or even the primary thing. The purpose of the revolution was not to refuse to pay taxes, it was taxation without representation. Further, America always had a strong sense of generosity. Now the only thing that gets focus is the crass pursuit of commercial gain. The unrepentant ebenezer Scrooge would be proud. Enforced meters on thanksgiving? Stores open at 8 pm? All part of the same disease… The right wing’s attempt to take over America.

  6. Greg says:

    I would guess the chances of getting ticketed on a holiday are pretty high, simply because the folks working those holidays are probably pissed off they have to work and will take it out on anyone with the slightest infraction they can find.

  7. DoR Employee says:


    I don’t know what CPM pays their meter maids…but I would point out that for Federal Holidays…Time and 1 Half is Mandatory IF your a Full Time Employee.

    Are the CPM meter maids Full time or are they hired as Part Time Employees and worked no more than 32 hours a week?

    Paid Holidays are the Norm for Municipal Departments that do not Provide a Needed and Necessary Service (like the Police and Fire Departments and the Staff at the 9-1-1/3-1-1 Center).

    The Odds of getting Ticketed on a Holiday are not higher than a non-Holiday unless you ignore the meters or are from out of town and didn’t know you had to pay them on a Holiday in this screwed up city.

    You want to hear about ‘odds of getting a ticket?”

    The Day AFTER the Holiday you have a greater chance of getting a ticket than on the holiday itself. Take for example the Morning Rush Hour Parking Bans…

    How many people today Remembered that Black Friday is a (holiday sales not withstanding) a regular ordinary weekday ? And that Rush Hour would be enforced.

    Or that just because All Schools were closed…it didn’t mean we wouldn’t be in the Hoods checking RPP or Hydrants or Tow Zones.

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