Drivers see return of heavy holiday traffic, state troopers out in force

State - Regional

DILLON COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — AAA predicts nearly 680,000 South Carolinians will be out on the highways for Thanksgiving this year, up about 9% from last year but only about a 1% difference from 2019.

One driver who stopped at South of the Border in Dillon County on his way from Florida to Virginia said he had already experienced some heavy traffic.

“It’s been terrible,” Dennis Cach said. “I mean, just semis all over the place. You can’t go on cruise control because everything is stop-and-go.”

Cach said he still had several hours of driving left to get to his destination and that he couldn’t get there soon enough.

“We saw a couple of bad accidents along the way,” Cach said. “I just about didn’t want to stop here and get something to eat, but I was hungry. I’m ready to get to the hotel and sit down and have a couple of cold beers.”

Cach is just one of the nearly 50 million Americans estimated to be traveling by car this Thanksgiving.

National and state travel statistics from AAA

“With the pandemic kind of behind us a little bit, we anticipate people are going to travel,” South Carolina Highway Patrol Master Trooper Brian Lee said. “I-95 is always packed, it’s a busy road.”

Lee said the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the following Sunday are the two busiest traffic days of the year. He added that state troopers will be out in droves.

“Everybody has to work, so we are going to have everybody out,” Lee said. “We’re going to be in the rest areas talking to people, trying to encourage them to relax and take a little break if they need to.”

In addition to speeders and drowsy drivers, Lee said troopers will be watching for people who are driving under the influence.

“I guess people are always looking for a reason to celebrate, and some people like to celebrate with alcohol, which is their choice,” Lee said. “But our choice is if you’re going to do that, make sure you have a designated driver.”

Lee said it is also important to make sure that your car is road-ready before you leave and to give yourself extra time for breaks and traffic. He said his main goal is to ensure people get to their destination safely and encouraged drivers to dial *47 to get help from the highway patrol.

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