Millions of drivers on the road ahead of Thanksgiving, despite traffic, gas prices

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 5:31 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Record high gas prices and crowded highways aren’t stopping travelers from hitting the road this Thanksgiving.

“We’re coming from El Paso, Texas and we’re going to Lake Havasu, Arizona,” said Frank Sanchez as he was filling up his gas tank in Tucson.

Maria Enguillen is from California. She was walking inside the gas station in Tucson to take a break in between her long drive.

“I came from Riverside to Wilcox to pick up my mom for Thanksgiving,” said Enguillen.

According to AAA, nearly 49 million people are driving to visit family and friends this year and most of those people leave the day before Thanksgiving to make it just in time for the big holiday.

In Arizona around 950,000 people are expected to drive this holiday. That’s the second highest number of drivers on the roads for Thanksgiving in more than 20 years.

Traffic and gas prices are taking a toll on travelers.

We’ve seen places go from a two dollar price to a four dollar price in a short amount of time. We were in Texas and when we arrived here we saw a big jump in price,” said Xavier Gonzalez, New Jersey Resident.

Triple A says that’s not stopping travelers from seeing their loved ones after years in quarantine during the peak of the pandemic.

“People just want to go home for the holidays. They’ll budget in other ways. Eat out less and save in other ways. But the gas prices really don’t deter people from traveling,” said Julian Paredes, an AAA Spokesperson

With many people waiting until the last minute to hit the road, Wednesday, Nov. 23 is historically the busiest travel day and AAA says they’re preparing for lots of calls.

Triple A is anticipating more than 400,000 road side assistance calls nationwide,” said Paredes.

It’s important to fill up your car, check your tire pressure, and make sure you’re switching out drivers behind the wheel.

“An 8 to 9 hour drive is usually what I like to do per day, especially if I just have one person driving. I may have my wife drive a little bit more,” Gonzalez said.

A reminder when you see someone stopped on the side of the road, make sure you move over and give them space.

Make sure to move over and give them space.. especially with all of that holiday traffic!

Paredes said the traffic will die down after 8 p.m.

If you need to leave earlier, be sure to bring food, water, a battery charger and a roadside assistance kit in case you get stuck.

Sunday will be the busiest day following the holiday, Paredes said you’ll want to leave to head home early in the morning or after 8 p.m. to beat traffic.