Holiday traffic: are you prepared?

Posted: November 18, 2019

The holidays are always an exciting time of the year. There’s usually a little sense of holiday spirit in the air as you pass decorated homes, businesses and city squares wherever you go. As a truck driver, there’s also the added deliveries and knowing you’re playing a vital role in make sure the holidays run smoothly all season long around the country.

As great as this time of year can be, one thing that isn’t great is all the holiday traffic. Snowstorms, ice and other inclement winter weather can cause major traffic delays this time of year. Add in all the extra holiday congestion on the roads and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a major headache.

According to AAA, 48.5 million people were on the road over the Thanksgiving holiday and 112.5 million Americans traveled in the days before and after Christmas in 2018. While travel around Christmas tends to be the worst in terms of the amount of cars on the road, New Year’s Day doesn’t fall too far behind. This day signifies the end of the holiday season and it’s no surprise since this is when many travelers are heading home from their holiday getaways.

Truck drivers have to be on the road every day of the year, so it’s important to plan out your route accordingly. Google says that the busiest travel time during Thanksgiving week is the Wednesday before the big day between 3-4 p.m. If you’ll be on the road that day, consider adjusting your driving hours so that you’re off the road that afternoon. On Thanksgiving day, however, traffic will be much lighter, particularly after 6 a.m. Give yourself extra time to get to your destinations and keep good communication with your dispatcher to let them know of any possible delays. For Christmas travel, the heaviest traffic days tend to be the two days prior to Christmas and the day after. Fortune Magazine reported that New Year traffic lightens up by January 5th.

Rumor has it that fuel prices tend to go up around the holidays due to all the additional travelers. In truth, this one might just be a rumor. Fuel prices are still generally lower in the wintertime than during the summer and we’ve yet to see a solid study that proves a significant holiday price spike. However, saving money on fuel is always a win in our book. There are several apps out there including DAT Trucker, Trucker Path and Road Hunter that can help you find the cheapest places to fuel up.

Parking is at a premium this time of year because of extra traffic and increased freight demands. Use parking apps like Trucker Path and Park My Truck to find safe truck parking along your route. Some places may even let you call ahead and reserve your parking spot ahead of time.

As truckers, we should always be vigilant about our surroundings when we’re behind the wheel. But all the added vehicles on the road this holiday season also mean an increase in distracted drivers, bad navigators and those who aren’t fans of spreading holiday cheer. It’s important to take extra safety precautions, stay alert and put those defensive driving skills to use.

What other tips for dealing with holiday traffic can you add to our list?

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