Worst times to drive Thanksgiving week revealed — plan ahead

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By Dan Sears

Planes, trains and automobiles will all be packed this week.

The Transportation Security Administration predicts this holiday season will be the most traveled of all time, and it seems that no roadways will be shown mercy across the US — especially the tri-state area — for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving will likely be the absolute worst day to be on the road as some metro areas across the nation will see an 80% uptick in travel times, according to the American Automobile Association, along with transportation insight company INRIX, for this Thanksgiving week.

More than 49 million Americans are expected to drive on Thanksgiving itself — up 1.7% from last year, according to the AAA — while there’s an expected 11% increase in travelers taking a cruise, bus or train; even the Roosevelt Island tram is facing delays this November.

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The TSA expects to screen a sky-high 30 million flyers between Nov. 17 and 28.

Heavy traffic moves along the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway on Nov. 20, 2018 in Brooklyn.
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Just about all those modes of transportation will have drivers feeling less than thankful for the abominable amount of traffic that will be on highways and local roads alike.

“The day before Thanksgiving is notoriously one of the most congested days on our roadways. Travelers should be prepared for long delays, especially in and around major metros,” Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst at INRIX, said.

However, it doesn’t end there. This entire week promises to be brutal on drivers consistently — but there may be a few light spots.

Here’s what to know before you go.

More than 49 million Americans are expected to drive on Thanksgiving — up 1.7% from last year, according to the AAA.
Paul Martinka

The worst times to drive this week


AAA reports that driving between 2 and 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Eve is guaranteed to see, at the very least, an 11.4% traffic increase. If you have to drive on Wednesday, the association suggests you get on the road before 11 a.m.

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This is what the BQE looked like last year on the day before Thanksgiving.
Paul Martinka

Thursday: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving itself sees peak gridlock from around 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. — presumably when everyone is on their way to a feast. Head out before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m. to beat the biggest rush.

Black Friday

The roads will be at their worst from noon to 4 p.m. on Black Friday, according to AAA. It’s best to get going before 11 a.m. or after 7 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday

These two weekend days provide just a bit of mercy — at least for most of the nation. AAA indicates that only a two-hour period from 3 to 5 p.m. will be gruesome for travelers and recommends hitting the road ahead of noon.

Chicago also sees a lot of holiday traffic. This is the day before Thanksgiving 2017.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

However, AAA also noted that Sunday is especially brutal for the Garden State Parkway northbound from the New Jersey shore at 11:15 a.m. It’s actually considered NYC’s “peak congestion” roadway with 64% higher volume expected.

After all, New York is the sixth top domestic holiday destination, per AAA.

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