How to Beat the Turkey Day Traffic

The best and worst times to undertake your Thanksgiving drive.

1 minute read

November 23, 2022, 5:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


View of cars in traffic jam from behind

Krasula / Traffic jam

If you’re one of the 49 million Americans planning to drive to see family or friends during the Thanksgiving holiday, a Washington Post article by James Bikales outlines AAA’s suggestions for avoiding the biggest traffic jams.

Thanksgiving is typically one of the busiest holidays for road trips over 50 miles. This year, car travel is projected to be 0.4 percent higher than 2021, though still 2.5 percent below pre-pandemic levels in 2019, according to AAA.

As Bikales explains, “The best time to hit the road Thanksgiving week is Monday at 8 p.m. local time, according to Google, which examined its Maps data from last Thanksgiving in more than 20 major U.S. cities.”

Unsurprisingly, the worst traffic is expected on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings during regular commute times, particularly Wednesday, when most people leave school or work to head out for the holiday. “At peak Wednesday afternoon, New York City will see a 158 percent increase above typical traffic, Los Angeles 144 percent and Atlanta 105 percent. Traffic in those cities, along with Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, San Francisco and Seattle, will peak Wednesday afternoon.” On Thanksgiving Day itself, the best times to drive are early morning or late evening.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022 in The Washington Post

Rendering of electric scooters, electric cars, light rail train, and apartments in background.

Arizona’s ‘Car-Free’ Community Takes Shape

Culdesac Tempe has been welcoming residents since last year.

February 14, 2024 - The Cool Down

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

"It's The Climate" sign over street in Grants Pass, Oregon.

Oregon Town Seeks Funding for Ambitious Resilience Plan

Like other rural communities, Grants Pass is eager to access federal funding aimed at sustainability initiatives, but faces challenges when it comes to meeting grant requirements.

February 18, 2024 - The Daily Yonder

Close-up of bottom half of stroller being pushed onto sidewalk with no curb cut by person in jeans and brown shoes.

How Infrastructure Communicates Values

The presence and quality of sidewalks, curb cuts, and other basic elements of infrastructure can speak to much more than just economic decisions.

1 hour ago - Strong Towns

Greyhound and Amtrak buses at a temporary bus terminal in San Francisco, California.

Despite High Ridership, Intercity Bus Lines Are Eliminating Stations

Riders on the ‘forgotten stepchild’ of the U.S. transportation system find themselves waiting for buses curbside as Greyhound sells off its real estate in many U.S. cities.

2 hours ago - Governing

Buffalo, New York

Buffalo Residents Push Back on Proposed Cap Park

State and local officials say the $1 billion project will heal neighborhoods divided by the Kensington Expressway, but community members say the proposed plan will exacerbate already poor air quality in the area.

3 hours ago - Bloomberg CityLab

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

The Walkable City

Harvard GSD Executive Education

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.