It's Slow Movin' for Virginia Travelers

"I like to just go and only stop for gas," says Eric Stringer, a driver pausing at the rest area off of Interstate 81.

But on the busiest travel day of the year, Stringer just can't do that. Like many other travelers, Stringer has encountered some stop and go traffic that's slowed down his trip.

"It's been a little rough going the past few miles, but before that it hasn't been too bad. Hopefully, it will get better the rest of the way to Georgia," he says.

Bumper to bumper traffic is just as much a part of Thanksgiving as pumpkin pie.

First Sergeant Joseph Rade of the Virginia State Police says, "You can expect a lot of delays on Interstate 81. The reason being, people break down, there's going to be some rear end crashes."

Fender benders are inevitable with some 36 million Americans on the road. An AAA survey says holiday travel is up this weekend nearly two percent from last year.

Bill Kirby has taken notice. He's traveled through our area at Thanksgiving time for thirty years.

"I noticed today there was more traffic than I remember," he says.

Analysts think there's more traffic because more Americans stayed close to home after last year's terrorist attacks. Kirby offers another suggestion.

"I wonder if it's because of all the colleges and universities along 81," Kirby says.

State police say no significant crashes have been reported in Virginia. But a tractor trailer accident just north of Staunton had drivers crawling on 81.

"We can only move so much traffic but so quickly," says Rader.

Stringer says people's curiosity slows down traveling more than serious accidents do.

"There was something on the other side of 81. Nothing on our side. I think everybody was looking on the other side to see what was going on," he says.

If you're interested in up-to-date travel information, there's a Web site you can check out.

www.511virginia.org

Or you can call the Virginia Highway Department Helpline at 1-800-367-7623.

whsv.com Extended Web Coverage

Holiday Travel Tips: Driving, Using the Rails, Taking a Bus, or Flying

Driving

  • Check road conditions before you leave home.
  • The most traffic usually occurs on: The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Friday before Christmas, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Eve.
  • Hotel and motel occupancies slumped badly after September, so check for bargains now if you need to spend a night on the road.
  • Avoid highways that double as access roads to airports. Airport roads may be more backed up than usual given the added security and constraints on terminal parking.

Car Rentals

  • You may not notice security measures at most car-rental locations. But many rental companies are advising customers to allow extra time for pick-ups and drop-offs, especially at airport locations.
  • Book as far in advance as possible. There's generally no penalty for canceling a reservation unless you've booked a specialty vehicle, but always ask about the cancellation policy.
  • Driving a rental car across the borders into Canada or Mexico is not allowed by some rental firms.

Train

  • Reservations are expected to be very tight and on unreserved this holiday season, get your tickets early.
  • Make sure you know what type of identification you need to bring before boarding the train.
  • Some railway companies, such as Amtrak, are requiring passengers to show a picture I.D. when purchasing the tickets.

Bus Travel

  • Remember that many items that were OK to carry onto a bus in early September are no longer allowed.
  • Overall, U.S. motorcoaches carried about 774 million passengers last year, which was about 200 million more than the airlines and more than double Amtrak and commuter rail lines combined.
  • Allow yourself time to board the bus, as security measures have increased since 9-11.
  • Be sure to bring proper identification. Each bus line requires different forms of identification, but all require at least a photo I.D.

Flying

  • Be sure to check with the airline on how early you need to arrive to the airport. This holiday season will bring even more security to the airports.
  • Check bag check-in and bag carry-on regulations before getting to the airport.
  • Have a photo I.D. ready when arriving to the airport. As you will need it check any luggage and again to board the plane.
  • Make sure you do not have anything in your luggage or on your person, that could be mistaken as a weapon. Passengers many times overlook items such as a knife on a key chain.

A compilation of Web reports contributed to this report.


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