The AAA Nevada reports that Thanksgiving Weekend is going to be one of the busiest for travelers in the last twenty years. There are an expected 55 million people traveling to for Thanksgiving, which is nearly a two percent increase from 2021, and ninety-eight percent increase from pandemic travel volume.
Of the 55 million travelers, 49 million are expected to travel by car, and 4.5 million estimated to travel by air. The number of air travelers is an eight percent increase from 2021. Brian Ng, the senior manager at AAA Nevada stated that considering this holiday season is one of the busiest Nevada has seen in a while, planning ahead is crucial and can reduce a lot of stress associated with traveling during this season.
If you plan to travel by car, one of the parts of planning is deciding when to hit the road. Wednesday afternoon is one of the busiest days on southbound Interstate-15 on the border between Nevada and California, and the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada has warned of traffic on this stretch. Additionally, there’s expected to be normal traffic in that area on Thanksgiving day and Friday, but Saturday and Sunday are forecasted to see the heaviest levels of traffic this season. The traffic is expected to be so bad that the RTC is telling travelers to avoid driving to Southern California, unless necessary, on those days.
RTC’s Deputy Chief Executive, David Swallow, stated that Las Vegas being a tourist location brings visitors and family travelers in at high numbers during the holiday season, and this means increased traffic on I-15 and throughout the city. He suggests traveling outside peak traffic hours if you want to avoid the traffic rush, and if you plan to travel in the city, using city transit is a much less stressful option. If you do plan to use public transportation, Swallow suggests travelling by RTC buses out of Las Vegas on November 28 if possible, as RTC estimates that traffic will return to normal by then.
This Thanksgiving will mark the major holiday weekend where the 1-mile-long transition lane on I-15 southbound was opened at the Nevada-California Border. This lane was meant to ameliorate the 25-mile-long traffic block which often occurs on busy holiday weekends. The new lane is one mile long. During this holiday traffic, there will be a zero-tolerance policy in effect and drivers will be ticketed with no questions for drinking and driving. Also, while driving to and from family and friend gatherings over Thanksgiving weekend, if you will be drinking at that destination, choose a designated driver who will be remaining alcohol free. Nevada law enforcement will be out in full effect and violators will be subjected to the full effects of the law against driving under the influence.
Safety Recommendations for Driving during Thanksgiving Weekend
- Ensure you Car is Ready— Winter road conditions such as snow are common, especially in Northern Nevada. Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained and ready to be driven in such conditions
- Wear your Seatbelt— As simple as it sounds, seatbelts and being restrained safely can really save your life.
- Do not drive fatigued— it is easy to become fatigued when driving long distance or after a party. Get a good night’s sleep before going for a long drive, and take breaks, and share driving responsibilities.
- Have an Emergency Plan— always have backup items such as cell phone chargers, as well as water and an emergency kit if driving long distance. If you are driving in winter months, it is also useful to keep a blanket as well as warm clothing in the car, in case you get caught in a snow storm
- Keep a Safe following Distance— ample space between cars allows you to break without hitting the vehicle in front. In addition, if the road is icy, keep even more space between the vehicle space for ample stopping time.
- Watch your Speed— Drive at the speed limit, even if you are on the freeway. In addition, drive to the conditions and remember that posted speed limits are the law, not a suggestion
- Remain Calm— It is easy to become stressed and irritable when driving during these busy times. Do not drive with road rage, as this compromises the safety of yourself and others. Plan to leave for your destination early and remember becoming frustrated or speeding will not get you to your location faster.