Thanksgiving travelers leave early, roads predicted to be busiest since 2007

By  | 

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Thanksgiving travelers are filling up Virginia roads. AAA predicts nearly a million and a half drivers will pack the highways this year - the most in 10 years.

So why the crowded dash home for the family Thanksgiving dinner?

AAA says it's all because of a stronger economy which is fueling confidence among travelers, and a solid year for the travel industry.

The roads may seem more busy today because it marks the start of Thanksgiving break for many college students.

"It's going to be really nice. I've been anticipating all week. I packed my bags like three days ago I was so excited to go home," said Jacob Berman, a freshman at Virginia Tech.

"I like it here but it's great to go home to see your friends and family, it's the best feeling ever," said Ashley Wadsworth, a freshman at Virginia Tech.

Signs on buses outside Lane Stadium at Virginia Tech point to home.
Dozens of students are catching a ride through the Home Ride program that offers trips throughout the state. For Ashley Wadsworth that means a stress free trip.

"It's very convenient. I'll probably just sleep the whole way home," Wadsworth said.

Students loaded up their luggage and prepared for the long, busy road ahead.

"Buses come from other universities and we get on buses from here to other universities so they kind of do a big circle," Berman said.

Other students decided to drive themselves. People planning to leave town early may find millions of others decided to do the same. Traffic was already heavy Friday afternoon in Montgomery County. Despite a recent increase in gas prices, AAA predicts more than 44 thousands more drivers than this time last year will pack the roads through next week with the heaviest traffic between Wednesday and Sunday.

Virginia State Police will increase its visibility through next week during its Drive to Save Lives event.

This year there's another option for travelers in Roanoke - rail. Amtrak is recommending people who are traveling by train to plan early to avoid the rush.