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Thanksgiving traffic on SC roads expected to be near pre-pandemic levels

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 8:04 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 23, 2021 at 8:33 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians are expected to be on the roads for the next few days.

AAA is forecasting this year’s Thanksgiving travel period will be nearly as busy as it was before the pandemic, after a sizable slowdown last year. The auto club expects about 678,000 cars will be on South Carolina roads from Wednesday through Sunday, up from 617,000 cars in 2020 and just a 1% decrease from 2019′s total.

In addition to more cars, the South Carolina Highway Patrol said more state troopers will be out over the next several days too.

“If you make that poor choice to drive drunk, or you make the poor choice to speed or drive reckless, we’re going to be out in full force and make sure we stop you, make sure we ticket you, make sure we educate you, and make sure you get to your destination safely,” SCHP Trooper David Jones said.

The extended holiday weekend arrives with an extra warning for safety, as South Carolina’s 976 traffic deaths so far in 2021 have already surpassed last year’s total, 961, with still more than a month left in the year.

Too often, Jones said congestion leads to minor crashes, and those turn into big backups or even bigger collisions, especially if drivers get distracted.

“The thing that we look at isn’t a number on a billboard or a number of a traffic fatality,” he said. “We remember those names. We remember the faces. We remember those loved ones who get the worst news of their life, and what’s disheartening for us is that all too often, these crashes could’ve been completely avoidable.”

AAA reports South Carolina roads will likely be busy for the bulk of the day and evening on Wednesday, saying drivers should hit the least amount of traffic if they leave after 9 p.m. On Thanksgiving, it said the best time to drive is before 11 a.m., while the hours between noon and 3 p.m. are the busiest.

AAA recommends people leave in the morning to return home on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

“Go ahead and plan now and know that the roads are going to be congested. Make sure you limit your distractions, wear your seatbelt, reduce your speed, and if you do these simple things, we know we can reduce the fatalities we’ve seen in the years past,” Jones said.

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