Thanksgiving travel surge nearing pre-pandemic levels says AAA

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A boost in vaccinated Americans is likely the cause of the 2021 Thanksgiving holiday travel surge, according to AAA.

53 million people are expected to travel for the holiday, up 13 percent from 2020 levels. AAA spokesperson Meredith Mitts says despite higher gas prices, people will likely find ways to make up for any pain felt at the pump.

"We don't expect gas prices will influence decisions to travel this holiday season, especially as the holidays get closer and prices are fluctuating," Mitts said. "Many people are already committed and excited about their travel plans. They're going to find ways to offset those prices."

AAA warns motorists to plan ahead before hitting the road as traffic levels are expected to be 8 percent higher compared to one year ago.

"Last year out of an abundance of caution many people decided not to spend Thanksgiving with friends and family," Mitts added. "With the CDC guidance this year, many people are jumping at the chance to have an in-person celebration this holiday season."

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48.3 million Americans are expected to travel more than 50 miles from home in the coming days.

The influx in roadway traffic comes with a warning to motorists from the Minnesota State Patrol and the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety as 2021 looks to be one of the deadliest years for driving in Minnesota.

Last week, the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) reported that the state reached 446 traffic deaths, a 24 percent increase from the same time a year before and a 38 percent increase from 2019.

"Just plain pushing the limit of beyond limit is the leading cause in increase in fatalities and serious injuries that we are seeing," said Mike Hanson, the OTS director. "It's like COVID-19 came along with all of it's challenges, but he dragged his evil twin brother along with him, which is Mr. Selfish. That's what these speeding decisions are out there."

Wednesday marks the start of extra DWI holiday patrols across the state.