About 50.9 million Americans will be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday.

That’s the word from AAA, which says the estimated number of people traveling 50 miles or more this year is a 3.3 percent increase — 1.6 million more people — over 2016. AAA reports that this year will mark the highest volume of Thanksgiving travel since 2005.

Kimberly Schwind, senior manager of public affairs for the AAA Ohio Auto Club, said more than 2.1 million Ohioans will be among those traveling for Thanksgiving.

“Thanksgiving kicks off the start of a busy holiday season, and more thankful Americans will travel to spend time with friends and family this year,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president for travel and publishing. “A strong economy and labor market are generating rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, fueling a strong year for the travel industry, which will continue into the holiday season.”

The holiday travel period begins Wednesday, Nov. 22 and ends Sunday, Nov. 26.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. Paul A. Pride cautions motorists to be safe on the state’s roadways during the extended holiday weekend.

“It’s simple — safety belts save lives and reduce injury in crashes,” Pride said. “It is the easiest and most effective action you can take to protect yourself, your family and friends.”

Last year during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, nine people were killed in nine fatal crashes on Ohio’s roadways. Five of those fatalities were the result of an impaired driver and six were unbuckled. To promote traffic safety, troopers will have an increased presence on Ohio’s roadways to remove impaired drivers.

Travel by the numbers

According to AAA, Thanksgiving weekend motorists will be paying the highest amount for gas since 2014. As of Monday, fuel information website GasBuddy reported that the average price of fuel in Ohio was $2.54 per gallon, which is the same as the national average.

Despite fuel prices, AAA estimates that 89.3 percent of all holiday travelers will drive to their chosen destinations. The estimated 45.5 million people on the nation’s roadways is a 3.2 percent increase over 2016.

Daily car rental rates will hit a 5-year high of $70 this year, AAA reported.

Roughly 3.95 million people — including nearly 165,000 Ohioans — will travel by airplane this year. AAA reports that reflects a 5 percent increase over last year. In Ohio, it marks a 6.1 percent increase from 2016.

About 1.48 million people plan to travel via train this year, a 1.1 percent jump from 2016, according to AAA.

Gazette Staff

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