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AAA Projects Slight Increase in Colorado Thanksgiving Travel Over Last Year

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Snowy traffic in Colorado

Snowy traffic in Colorado.

AAA projects a small increase in Thanksgiving travel by Coloradans of 0.7% over last year, for a total of 737,000 Colorado travelers during the holiday weekend, as Emily Boyer writes for KUNC 91.5. This is despite AAA’s projected decrease in Thanksgiving travel throughout the U.S., according to news reports.

Boyer writes that AAA expects Coloradans to travel an average of 607 miles for the holiday, which is less than last year’s 900 miles, and that nearly 88% of those travelers will get to where they are going by car. AAA says that a 0.5% increase in Thanksgiving car trips by Coloradans — as compared with 2011 — is part of a trend towards shorter-distance holiday trips. Only 66,000 Coloradans are expected to travel for Thanksgiving by plane, a decrease of 1.8% as compared with 2011, Boyer writes.

The slight increase in Colorado Thanksgiving travel is expected despite higher gas prices. Brittany Anas reports for ColoradoDaily.com that gas prices in the state are projected to be 10 cents a gallon higher than last year’s average of $3.40 per gallon, and 53 cents a gallon higher than the three-year average of $2.97.

Anas writes:

Officials at the Colorado Department of Transportation say the day before Thanksgiving and the Saturday after have the most cars traveling along Interstate 25 and Interstate 70 corridors.

Those traveling by plane will find round-trip rates 11 percent lower than last year, with an average fare of $188, according to AAA. Car rental rates, though, have jumped 27 percent.

Xuan ‘Jessica’ Zhou, an international student from China who is studying at CU, made last-minute travel plans. She said she’ll be spending the first half of her break skiing at Copper Mountain with friends, then hopping on a plane to Ohio to join an American host family for their Thanksgiving dinner.

‘They told me that I have to come and meet all the grandparents and aunts and uncles and help them eat a huge turkey,’ she said.

Larry Copeland writes in a USA TODAY, appearing on Detroit Free Press website, that Thanksgiving is “one of the year’s deadliest weeks for traffic crashes” because many people will be navigating unfamiliar roads, and driving late at night, when they are more likely to get drowsy, drive drunk, and/or drive on riskier two-lane roads.

Copeland quotes a public safety expert on the effects that greater traffic volume has on accident risks:

‘Whenever traffic volume goes up, crashes generally go up as well,’ says Allen Parrish, director of the University of Alabama Center for Advanced Public Safety. ‘This isn’t really rocket science here: You have a lot of people on the roads over Thanksgiving, so the crashes are naturally going to get worse.’

Image by Jake Sutton.

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