Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Driving for Thanksgiving week? Latest on gas prices, best times to travel and more

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Almost 1 million Marylanders, and more than 49 million people nationwide, are expected to travel by car for the big Thanksgiving holiday, according to AAA MidAtlantic.

Here’s everything to know about gas prices in the state, the best times to hit the road and much more.

Gas prices still low, but have risen over past week

According to the gas price-tracking service http:/, the average price of a gallon of gas in Salisbury was $3.26 as of Monday, Nov. 20. That’s up 20 cents from $3.06 on Monday, Nov. 13, but still down substantially from an average of $3.78 per gallon on Aug. 22. the peak over the previous three months.

For the state of Maryland overall, the average price of a gallon of gas was $3.27 on Nov. 20, also up from $3.16 on Nov. 13.

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What to know if you’re hitting the road, or air, for Thanksgiving travel

AAA offering the following forecast for holiday travel volume and these tips on Monday.

AAA is projecting that almost 1.1 million Marylanders will travel over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, an increase of more than 3 percent over last year, but down more than 8 percent below pre-pandemic Thanksgiving travelers in 2019, which was the second highest travel volume on record for the holiday in Maryland.  

This year’s Thanksgiving forecast marks the third-highest since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000. The top two years were 2005 and 2019, respectively.

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Thanksgiving travel in Maryland, by the numbers

In Maryland around the big Thanksgiving holiday, AAA estimates:

  • 1,060,780 people overall in Maryland will be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • 964,210 of those are estimated to be traveling by car
  • 77,890 are estimated to be traveling by airplane
  • 18,690 are estimated to travel by other means (bus, train and more)

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When is the best, worst time to hit road for Thanksgiving?

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is expected to be the worst day for travel on the roads because people traveling for the holiday and commuters will be out driving, according to data from INRIX that AAA Mid-Atlantic shared. INRIX provides transportation data and insights.

According to INRIX, the busiest time to travel that Wednesday is 2 -6 p.m. The best time to travel that day is before 11 a.m.

Other best and worst times to drive during the holiday weekend, according to INRIX, are:

  • Thanksgiving Day: Worst time is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; best time is before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
  • Friday, Nov. 24: Worst time is noon to 4 p.m.; best time is before 11 a.m. and after 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 25: Worst time is 3-5 p.m.; best time is before noon
  • Sunday, Nov. 26: Worst time is 3-5 p.m.; best time is before noon

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Be sure your car is up to date on its service needs

AAA is expected to rescue approximately 350,000 stranded drivers across the county this year during the Thanksgiving holiday, and more than 9,000 of those calls will be for breakdowns in Maryland.

AAA offered the following service tips to check your vehicle before the big trip:

Whether heading out for the Thanksgiving holiday or later during the holiday season, AAA recommends going over a winter checklist for motorists.

• Check your tires – At minimum, AAA recommends checking your tires once a month and before taking a long trip. Pay special attention to both tire inflation pressure and tread depth. Be sure to inspect all four tires and the spare tire if your vehicle has one.

• Check your battery – The average car battery life is typically 3-5 years. If your engine is slow to start and/or your lights are dim, your battery may be nearing the end of its life. Visual signs of damage or corrosion are other indicators of deterioration. Drivers can ask for a battery check at a AAA Car Care Center or Approved Auto Repair Facility. AAA can also come to a member’s location to test and, if needed, replace the battery on site.

• Listen to and feel the brakes – If you hear a grinding sound or feel a vibration when applying the brakes, take your vehicle to an auto repair shop for a brake inspection.

• Replace wiper blades and replenish windshield cleaner – Rubber wiper blades naturally deteriorate over time. Most manufacturers recommend replacing them every 6-12 months. If wipers streak or fail to clear the windshield thoroughly, replace the blades.

• Top off engine oil and other fluids – Check that engine oil, coolant and brake, transmission and power steering fluids are at the correct levels for safe vehicle operation. When adding fluids, use products that meet the specifications listed in the owner’s manual.

• Replenish emergency kit supplies – AAA recommends keeping a well-stocked emergency kit in your vehicle. Include a flashlight and extra fresh batteries, first-aid supplies, drinking water, non-perishable snacks for people and pets, car battery booster cables, emergency flares or reflectors, a rain poncho, a basic tool kit, duct tape, gloves and shop rags or paper towels.

Julie E. Greene of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail contributed to this story.

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