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TRAFFIC: Thanksgiving Congestion Expected, Police Urge Safety

The American Automobile Association estimates that 882,700 Marylanders will travel 50 miles or more Thanksgiving weekend.

Hitting the road this Thanksgiving?

You're not the only one. The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates that 882,700 Marylanders will travel 50 miles or more Thanksgiving weekend—less than a half-percent increase from last year. Over 90 percent of travelers will travel by automobile.

And what do they plan to do after reaching their destination? You guessed it—visiting friends and family, eating and shopping, according to the AAA.

This could add congestion to the major roadways serving Edgewater, Davidsonville and south county residents, namely Interstate 97 and Route 50.

Check our commuter map on the Patch Commute page to track congestion as the hectic travel season progresses.

The Maryland State Highway Administration urges drivers to call 511 or visit md511.org for traffic updates.

According to a release from the SHA: "To further ease congestion, the agency will also suspend all non-emergency road work on SHA-maintained roadways between Wednesday, November 21 at 9 a.m. and Monday morning, November 26. Emergency response units will patrol metropolitan interstates in search of stranded motorists to help them on their way and prevent delay for other motorists."

The SHA released the following safety tips:

  • Drive focused—Maryland law prohibits hand-held cell phone use and texting while driving.
  • Buckle up! It’s the law in Maryland and your number one defense in a crash.
  • Move over to an adjacent travel lane away from emergency personnel—a new Maryland law requires it.
  • Travel during off-peak hours and allow extra time for unexpected delays.
  • Check your vehicle’s lights, tires, battery and windshield wipers for proper operation.
  • Slow down and pay attention, avoiding distractions such as cell-phone use, changing CDs and eating. Observe all posted speed limits.
  • Never drink and drive! Designate a sober driver.
  • Drivers with cellular phones can dial #77 or 911 to report suspected aggressive or drunk drivers.
  • In the unfortunate case that you are involved in a minor crash, please safely move your vehicle from the travel lanes—it’s Maryland’s law.
  • The National Click it or Ticket campaign will be underway; police will be enforcing seat belt laws.
  • Place children in the proper child safety seat.

In inclement weather:

  • See and be seen. Maryland State Law requires the use of headlights while windshield wipers are in use.
  • Wet road surfaces are not ideal and require particularly attentive driving.
  • Slow down, increase your distance between the vehicle in front of you, avoid distractions and drive defensively.
  • New Law—In the event that there is a dark traffic signal without power, each driver must come to a complete stop at the intersection before proceeding.

Share your tips for travel safety in the comments. How do you avoid I-97, Route 50 and Muddy Creek Road backups when traveling for the holidays?

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