AAA: Thanksgiving travel will hit 9-year high

Emboldened by low gas prices, Americans are expected to hit the highways — or travel by air or train — over the Thanksgiving holidays at the highest level since 2007, the AAA is projecting.

Some 48.7 million travelers will take a trip of at least 50 miles over the holiday, a 2% increase over last year, says AAA, the organization once known as the American Automobile Association. Of those, 89% will be driving to their destinations.

The average price of a gallon regular gas nationwide averaged $2.132 Tuesday, down from $2.225 a month ago but up from $2.078 a year ago, according to AAA's daily price tracking service. Even diesel fuel prices remain low, averaging $2.384 a gallon, down from $2.442 a gallon a year ago.

"It's not going to be as cheap as Thanksgiving weekend as last year, which was the cheapest since 2004," says Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service, which keeps tabs on gasoline prices. But he says oil, from which gasoline is made, remains in a "consistently cheap" environment despite attempts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to re-establish control. OPEC's ability to impose higher prices, however, is being challenged by a resurgent oil industry in the U.S., which can put a lid on prices if they climb too high.

U.S.-based airlines are counting on Thanksgiving to be their busiest travel period ever, with a record 27 million fliers between last Friday and Nov. 29, according to their trade group, Airlines for America.

Whether it's airports or highways, Wednesday remains the big weekend getaway day.

When it comes to traffic congestion, Wednesday will see likely see the most big tie-ups, says Waze, the crowd-sourced traffic and navigation app service. It says its users last year reported coming across 33% more traffic accidents, 26% more traffic hazards and 20% more traffic jams compared with the average over the four weeks prior. The other bad day will be Sunday, when it says the number of reported accidents doubled as people returned home from their holidays.


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