MEDFORD, Ore. — More than 50 million Americans will be traveling by car for the holidays this week, and almost 650,000 of them will be Oregonians headed out of town for Thanksgiving. AAA says that the expected traveling numbers this year haven't been this high since 2005.
With so many people on the roads and the increasing potential for hazardous weather, here's what travelers need to know to be safe on the roads.
Travelers should check on road and weather conditions before leaving the house. It's a good idea to begin preparing your car now — making sure that your windshield wipers and tire treads are in good condition. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) says that it's important for motorists to do their part in order to be prepared.
"It's a team effort, we can't do our job effectively unless you're doing your job because things will happen on the highway and the interstate that is unplanned and how we all respond to it will help get everyone to their destinations in time for that turkey," said Gary Leaming, Rogue Valley public affairs officer for ODOT.
It's also important to keep an emergency kit in your car in case the roadway is blocked by a crash or your vehicle becomes stuck in snow. Travelers should keep extra snacks, water, and a phone charger in the car, plus plenty of warm clothing and blankets.
Of the 650,000 Oregonians traveling this season, only about 114,000 will be flying. Make sure to get to the airport early. It's possible that flights will be delays due to weather conditions this week, so pack a sleeping kit in case you get stuck overnight at the airport. Keep any medications with you.
Some local residents prefer to stay put because of how hectic holiday travel can be.
"We just think it's such a crazy time that it's not worth it — the long lines and everything else that goes with it," said Katherine Boranian. "We have neighbors that just canceled a trip because it would be snowy and it's not worth driving."
Boranian said that she and her husband usually avoid traveling during the holiday season. They were at the Rogue Valley International-Medford airport on Friday to pick up friends.
ODOT says that they began prepping I-5 and shaded roads known to be icy beginning on Monday. Meanwhile, most road construction projects on Southern Oregon's roadways are on hold during the holiday travel season.