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Be careful, stay alert {Editorial]

One of the busiest travel periods of the year in the United States has historically been over the long Thanksgiving Day weekend, anytime from Wednesday through Sunday night.

That time is upon us and it’s a time to be particularly careful if you are one of the nearly 1 million Maryland residents expected to travel by motor vehicle to a destination 50 miles or more from your home this weekend. The AAA estimates some 45.5 million folks nationwide will make a 50-mile journey from home this weekend.

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Everyone has an idea when is the best time to travel to avoid traffic backups and the stress that comes with them.

“Thanksgiving has historically been one of the busiest holidays for road trips, and this year we could see record-level travel delays,” says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, when analyzes traffic data for AAA. “Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”

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Some of the data, cited by Pishue in a pre-holiday news release, suggests things typically begin jamming up on Tuesday evening, when work commuters are still out on the road and then into Wednesday during the morning and beyond.

Some folks swear by leaving on their road trips the morning of Thanksgiving and starting back for home early Sunday. We’re sure many of our readers hold to an old adage that everybody who goes away for the holiday will be trying to get home on Sunday, and the later in the day, the worse the traffic.

The truth is, when it comes to traffic and backups, nothing is predictable, other than delays can occur at anytime, anyplace. Often accidents are the culprit.

The best advice is to slow down, stay alert, stay calm. Don’t drink alcohol or use medications that cause drowsiness if you are going to be behind the wheel. Take frequent breaks. Get to a safe place and get out of the vehicle for a spell. You’ve heard and read it all before, no doubt, but it’s still worth repeating.

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Have a safe holiday, and you will if you’re careful and alert, whether you are just going around the block or far down Interstate 95 or beyond.

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