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Hitting the roads for Thanksgiving? Here are the best and worst times to drive

KOMO-TV Seattle 11/24/2022 Tyrah Majors, KOMO News Anchor
Hitting Seattle-area roads for Thanksgiving? Here are the best and worst times to leave
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Experts predict highways around Seattle to be more congested compared to last year’s Thanksgiving travel period.

According to data compiled by Inrix Traffic, heavy gridlock is predicted in several U.S. metros, with some drivers expected to sit through close to double the normal delays.

“If you have a 30-minute trip, I would plan another 12 minutes or so for your trip,” said Bob Pishue, an Inrix Traffic analyst.

RELATED: Travelers warned to 'pack your patience' this Thanksgiving holiday

Pishue also said most travelers will drive to their destinations, much like last year. Nearly 49 million people are expected to travel by car.

“Especially in the Seattle region if you're staying around the region most likely you're driving as opposed to taking something like taking transit or Amtrak,” Pishue said.

RELATED: Thanksgiving travel rush is back with some new habits

Inrix recommends traveling early in the morning on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, or before 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving day. It’s also best to avoid travel between 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

“We expect [Wednesday] to be the heaviest day, and again no surprise it's going to be I-5 and I-405,” Inrix continued.

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The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) graph shows the busiest corridors in the Puget region will be I-5 northbound and southbound between Lacey and Tacoma. Travel times here will be the heaviest Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday.

© Provided by KOMO-TV Seattle

"If you look at the trend lines, the traffic volume is fairly normal, but what I expect is we’re gonna have a lot of people traveling during those hours that don’t usually,” said Tom Pearce with WSDOT.

I-90 between North Bend and Cle Elum will also be heavy Wednesday and Sunday. Click here to see all the Thanksgiving weekend travel time graphs from the WSDOT.

If you’re heading over any passes, carry tire chains with you, and be careful.

“WSDOT does their best to keep the passes clear but if we get a lot of spin-outs or something, that can cause the pass to close and could delay you a couple of hours,” Pearce said.

With winter weather on the horizon, WSDOT and AAA always say it's a great time to have an expert check your car before your road trip. Make sure your brakes, lights, and fluids are topped off for safe travel.

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