‘Busiest Travel Day of the Year’: Drivers hit the road ahead of Thanksgiving


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The day before Thanksgiving is known as the busiest travel day of the year, but drivers here in the Cape Fear are not letting it put a damper on their holiday spirit.

Things were pretty much how you would expect on Thanksgiving Eve for drivers getting on I-40 headed out of Wilmington.

- Advertisement -

“Coming out right now, traffic is kind of rough right now,” Nery Robles said. “Even trying to get into the gas station right now, it took me more than 10 minutes to get right here where I’m at.”

Whether people are headed to Raleigh, Greensboro or somewhere in between, drivers are expecting holiday traffic to tack on an extra few hours to their trip.

“I’m probably going to get there around 5, which is rush hour and everything, so it’s not looking too good so far,” Connor Primm, who’s headed to Greensboro, said.

“It’s still going to be probably at least three hours down there just judging getting out of the city,” Matthew Chmelewski, who’s headed to Raleigh, said.

AAA predicts almost 50 million travelers will hit the roads this week, which is the most since 2005. For all of them, it won’t be smooth sailing.

“We expect to rescue about 368,000 people on the side of the road due to batteries, lockouts and flat tires, so don’t be one of those people,” AAA spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano said.

As the roads start to fill up, drivers are trying to keep their cool.

“Right now, I know how traffic is, so I’m trying to be as patient as possible, but I do get some road rage sometimes,” Robles said.

“I’m fine if it’s just slow and that’s all, but when people start tailgating and merging when they shouldn’t that’s when the road starts starts to come out,” Chmelewski said.

One thing’s for sure, they won’t let the traffic ruin their Thanksgiving.

“I’m going to keep it positive,” Robles said.

As part of the I-40 challenge, the N.C. State Highway Patrol will have troopers along I-40 every 20 miles all week long.