This week Kansas roads will be busy with holiday travelers.
AAA Kansas predicts 53.4 million people nationwide to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, up 13 percent from 2020. In Kansas more than 570,000 people will travel for the holiday weekend, which marks an increase of 12 percent over last year. The Wichita Airport Authority says nearly 3,000 people will fly out of Wichita over the holiday weekend.
This brings travel volumes within 5% of pre-pandemic levels in 2019, with air travel almost completely recovering from its dramatic fall during the pandemic, up 80% over last year.
This year’s forecast marks the highest single-year increase in Thanksgiving travelers since 2005, bringing travel volumes close to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Despite gas costing over a dollar more per gallon than this time last year, 90% of people plan to travel by car as their preferred mode of travel. Although the car is still the most popular choice for travelers, a greater share will opt to travel by air and other modes such as bus, train or cruise this year. Whether you plan to do so by car or plane, it’s important to know how to navigate the new travel landscape to avoid unnecessary stress and challenges on the way to your Thanksgiving destination.
State officials want to remind motorists to prepare in advance for travel, and make responsible choices as they travel.
The Kansas Highway Patrol, along with local law enforcement organizations from throughout the state including the Salina Police Department at the Saline County Sheriff’s Office, have mobilized to participate in the annual Special Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) campaign. The program is courtesy of a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation.
The STEP program will run in conjunction with the Kansas Thanksgiving Safe Arrival traffic enforcement campaign. The goal of reducing fatality and injury crashes.
Before hitting the road for travels, motorists are encouraged to take the following into consideration:
- Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Check tires’ tread depth and air pressure; check the vehicle’s fluids, exhaust system, and other mechanical equipment. If traveling in winter conditions, make sure added precautions are taken for the cold weather.
- Check your route of travel for road conditions and/or construction work or other delays before you leave. The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) provides a 511 road condition hotline for motorists to use. Call 5-1-1 from any phone, or visit kandrive.org to check roads in the state of Kansas.
- Remember, we are in the peak time for car-deer crashes in our state. Look out for deer, and if you see one, remember they seldom travel alone.
- If you’re celebrating and consuming alcohol, make sure you designate a sober driver beforehand, and give them your keys. If you have no ride, call a taxi or a family member to get you home safely.
- If travelers are in need of assistance on a Kansas highway, or to report a suspected impaired driver, they should call *47 (*HP) for the Kansas Highway Patrol, or dial *582 (*KTA) on the Kansas Turnpike. Dispatchers and troopers will both be working throughout the holiday weekend.