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Thanksgiving Travel, Traffic Accidents Expected to Rise in Southern California in 2021

Auto Club Forecasts Big Jump in Travel for Thanksgiving

 Thanksgiving Travel, Traffic Accidents Expected to Rise in Southern California in 2021LOS ANGELES, Calif. (Nov. 10, 2021) – The more people who travel over Thanksgiving weekend, the more traffic accidents are expected.

Typically, there are fewer travelers when gas prices are high and this year it sells for an average of $4.50 a gallon in California. That’s the highest price ever recorded for Thanksgiving.

However, since most people didn’t travel during last year’s pandemic, the Automobile Club of Southern California is predicting a 16-percent increase in travel this year in Southern California. It’s expected to be the largest single-year increase since 2005.

Roughly 4.4 million Southern California residents are expected to travel for the holiday, according to the Auto Club’s estimates. If that happens, it would be the second-busiest Thanksgiving travel volume on record for the area. Also, it would be just 3 percent below the 4.5 million people who traveled for Thanksgiving in 2019.

The top five destinations for Southern California Thanksgiving travelers are expected to be: San Diego, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Santa Barbara/Central Coast.  The Auto Club reports most Southern California travelers or 3.8 million are expected to travel by car. Also, some 494,000 will travel by air to their destinations. Roughly 79,000 people will use other means of transportation such as a bus, train or cruise ship.

Meanwhile, Anaheim in Orange County is expected to be the second-most popular holiday destination for travelers nationally due to Disneyland. The most popular travel destination nationally happens to be Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Thanksgiving 2020 Saw Rise in Traffic Fatalities, DUI

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic last year, at least 50 people died in 2020 collisions in California over the 102-hour maximum enforcement period for the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the California Highway Patrol. The deaths that year rose by eight people from the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday, the CHP said.

Additionally, CHP officers arrested 868 people for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in 2020 compared to 867 DUI arrests in 2019.

California Ranks No. 2 for Most Dangerous States

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that Texas, California, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina proved to be the most dangerous states overall for motorists. Together, these five states, accounted for more than 35 percent of traffic fatalities.

Thanksgiving will be the third busiest on record, with 53.4 million travelers, trailing only behind the 56 million from 2019 and 53.7 million in 2018.

When to Travel for Thanksgiving

The afternoon and evening of Wednesday, Nov. 24 is listed as the busiest times for Southland freeways, according to analysts from the transportation firm INRIX.

Officials report the heaviest congestion will be on the Golden State (5) Freeway between Colorado Street and Florence Avenue. Traffic volume will rise 385% above normal levels.

Seat Belts and Sober Driving Save Lives

Wearing a seat belt saves lives, but people still lose their lives because they fail to heed the advice of safety experts.

The CHP states that roughly 43 percent of those who died in their jurisdiction were not wearing seat belts.

Travel experts suggest designating a driver if alcohol is consumed and traveling at non-peak times to avoid congestion.


Johnson Attorneys Group would appreciate your feedback. If you would like to contribute any information or have any concern with this story, please contact us as soon as possible. Our law firm is a proud, longtime supporter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). 

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