Holiday travel will mean lots of Arizonans take to the state’s roadways to visit family and friends.
AAA of Arizona’s Valerie Vinyard said almost 30 percent of the state’s population will travel more than 50 miles in the next 10 days.
“More than 1.9 million Arizonans are going to travel over the year-end holidays, and that’s an increase over last year of 1.2%,” Vinyard said.
Many will encounter inclement weather and should be prepared, said Doug Nintzel, with the Arizona Department of Transportation.
“What we tell folks is to be prepared for changing weather conditions," Nintzel said. "It could be nice in Tucson as you’re heading out on a trip, but you could be headed to the White Mountains and in less than two hours be in a snow storm.”
ADOT has information on its website, www.azdot.gov, about what people should bring on trips to places where there could be snow or other inclement weather.
Even though more people will be traveling long distances in the coming days, it doesn’t necessarily mean heavy traffic.
Nintzel said because travel is spread over a longer time, roadways are not as busy as they are on the recent travel-heavy weekend of Thanksgiving.
“During Thanksgiving, you’re going to have those busy times on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the Sunday when everyone’s coming home at the end of the weekend," he said. "At Christmas time and during New Year’s it’s a bit more spread out.”
The holiday can also mean a change in the times and places that everyone is driving. Nintzel says motorists can expect less travel based on people going to work, and more traffic near retail shops.
“So a lot of times it becomes a situation where there’s not as much focus on the commute because a lot of folks are away from the office, but it then becomes the search for that perfect parking space at the mall,” he said.
Both AAA Arizona and ADOT recommend that travelers check conditions along any roadway they plan to travel before heading out, and to allow extra time in case of traffic or hazardous conditions.