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AAA: Over 54 million will travel this Thanksgiving

AAA is projecting that over 54 million people will travel this Thanksgiving, a 4.8-percent increase from last year and the busiest Thanksgiving weekend since 2005.

The days surrounding Thanksgiving are the busiest days for long-distance car travel in the year. AAA predicts that 54.3 million Americans will drive 50 miles or more from home this year, which is 2.5 million more people making that trek.

The traffic is expected to be worst in the early evening hours, with drivers in San Francisco, New York City and Boston experiencing the worst delays. Their travel times could quadruple, AAA found

“Consumers have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season: higher wages, more disposable income and rising levels of household wealth,” AAA Travel senior vice president Bill Sutherland said in a statement. “This is translating into more travelers kicking off the holiday season with a Thanksgiving getaway, building on a positive year for the travel industry.”

A total of 48.5 million people will be traveling by car, a five-percent increase from last year. The largest growth in Thanksgiving travel is by plane, with 5.7 percent more people flying throughout the week.

AAA analyzed the data in coordination with INRIX, a mobility analytics organization.

"Thanksgiving is one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year will be no different,” Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX, said in a statement. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic. Our advice to drivers is to avoid commuting times in major cities altogether or plan alternative routes.”

The least crowded days will be Thanksgiving Day, Friday or Saturday, according to AAA's press release.

The national average price of gasoline was $2.62 per gallon Monday, the highest since 2014, but the cost is not expected to deter drivers.

“Motorists have become accustomed to this year’s more expensive gas prices and won’t let higher fuel costs deter them from taking Thanksgiving road trips,” AAA gas price expert Jeanette Casselano said in the statement.

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