Near-Record Numbers of Holiday Travelers Expected on the Highways This Holiday Season

Drivers may want to prepare to share the nation’s highways with high numbers of holiday travelers this week. In addition to heavy traffic, you may also want to account for inclement weather as another major storm with freezing temperatures is expected to impact much of the U.S. as the holiday weekend nears.

AAA is estimating 112.7 million people will be traveling 50+ miles from home between December 23 and January 2. This marks a 3.6 million person increase over last year as the numbers close in on pre-pandemic levels. What does that mean for everyone on the road? According to AAA, this would put 2022 as the third-busiest year for travel since they began tracking in 2000.

Most travelers (an estimated 102 million Americans) will be hitting the nations highways as they drive to their holiday destinations. This is 2 million more people on the road this holiday season than in 2021. Travel by car this year is on par with 2018, but just short of 2019 when 108 million Americans drove out of town for the holidays, in the highest year in AAA records.

With all the extra vehicles on the road combined with less-than-ideal driving conditions due to winter storms, you can probably expect delays in the coming week. INRIX, a provider of transportation analytics and insights, expects the most congested days on the road to be December 23, December 27, December 28, and January 2. In major metropolitan areas where travelers will mix with commuters, you can expect longer delays. In areas such as Los Angels and New York City, drivers could experience double the typical delays while nationwide drivers should expect to see travel times increase by 25%.