Travel experts predict 1.4 million Virginians will be on the road for Thanksgiving

Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 3:56 PM EST
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - Thanksgiving is always a hectic time for travelers and the roads have already started getting busy. With more travelers on the road this weekend, it’s important to remember to drive safely.

Travel experts say Thanksgiving is the busiest time of the year for drivers on the interstates. With students leaving Virginia Tech and Radford University’s campuses Friday afternoon, paired with the ongoing construction on I-81, drivers can expect travel times to take a bit longer than normal.

AAA is predicting 1.4 million Virginians will hit the road for Thanksgiving travel between this weekend and the next. The AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson explained how that prediction may be lower than actual numbers.

“We know that with the colleges and universities actually having a week off, that there’s actually more travelers than what our forecast captures,” Morgan Dean said.

The construction on the interstate between mile markers 137 and 142 will continue into Wednesday morning. Crews are set to start back up again at noon on the Monday after Thanksgiving.

A spokesperson with the Virginia Department of Transportation explained how the department is starting to see improvements with recent safety changes in the work zones.

“The contractor has made some other changes in that work zone, including some flashing lights on some of the barrier walls, additional barrels and additional delineators,” Jason Bond said. “Initially it seems like there may have been a reduction in crashes, but it’s really too soon to tell what the long-term effects are going to be of these changes.”

Whether you’re driving through a construction zone or not, the same safety tips apply.

“Most important thing you can do, the very moment you get into cars, buckle that seatbelt, buckle up everyone in the vehicle, make sure that they keep that seatbelt on,” Dean said.

Drivers should avoid distractions inside and outside the car.

“Everybody knows the cell phone is a big distraction out there, but surely it’s not the only one,” Dean said. “If you’re using it for GPS, put it up on the mount up on the windshield. Don’t let it distract you.”

VDOT also announced the rest area in Troutville will remain closed through the holidays.