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Driving This Thanksgiving? Here's Your Holiday Driving Guide.

Photo via Flickr//justmakeit

  There’s good news and bad news for Thanksgiving travelers. The good: gas prices are at five year lows. The bad: a lot more people will be driving.

More than 46 million Americans are projected to travel 50 miles or more from home for Thanksgiving. In Florida, 2.3 million people will hit the road, with the vast majority, 2.1 million, or 90%,  going by automobile. Mark Jenkins at AAA South, in Tampa, says that’s a 4.2% increase from last year’s 44 million travelers.

“We’re expecting to see an increase of about two million travelers, and that’s on the roads, in the airports and other modes of transportation,” says Jenkins. “The highest travel Thanksgiving since 2007. A lot of that has to do with improvements in the economic picture, (and) a lot of that has to do with falling gas prices.”

AAA reports the national average price for self-serve regular is $2.85 per gallon; $0.43 cheaper than Thanksgiving Day last year. In the Pensacola area, gas averages $2.72 per gallon. That’s nine cents lower than a month ago, and 53 cents less than last Thanksgiving. That’s also the lowest among Florida’s metro areas. The statewide average is $2.84.

The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 26th through Sunday, November 30th. Usually, the best rule of thumb is getting to the airport about 90 minutes before your flight. But with the Thanksgiving weekend, Jenkins says to go ahead and double that but first, go to the TSA website.

Other numbers from AAA: the average distance traveled this Thanksgiving will be 549 miles roundtrip. Americans will also spend an average of $573 during the holiday weekend. The most popular activities are visiting with friends and relatives, dining, shopping, and watching sporting events.

And there’s one constant no matter what time of the year that automobile trip is made. AAA’s Mark Jenkins says doing a little basic vehicle maintenance before hitting the road will go a long way towards avoiding trouble.

“You want to make sure your vehicle is serviced,” Jenkins said. “But also, program in important numbers on your cellphone. That way, if you’re broken down on the side of the road, you can call an emergency roadside service, like AAA.”

After the recent taste of winter, forecasters say things will be a bit warmer for Thanksgiving.  Highs are expected to be in the 50s and 60s and lows in the 40s. 

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.