RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The time to travel is here! Virginians are preparing for long and short drives as they head to their Thanksgiving destinations this year.  

8News spoke with a AAA official, who is giving us a better idea of exactly when to get on the road this year and what we can expect to see.  

AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson Morgan Dean said traveling this year may look a whole lot different than in previous years due, in part, to 2022 being the year when many are returning to traveling for the holiday season.

AAA officials predict they will be responding to nearly 400 thousand roadside calls this year.  

“Looking away from the road for just two seconds can double your risk of a crash and you don’t want that to happen,” Dean told 8News.

Experts predict that about 91% of drivers will be on the road this year.  

Last year, approximately 39% of the 6,500 calls that AAA ran for Thanksgiving were for tows. About 31% of the calls were for battery issues and about 14% were for tires.   

“AAA is forecasting that 1.42 million Virginians will travel this Thanksgiving. It’s up about a percentage point from last year, still down a few percentage points from 2019, but it’s the trend that we’ve seen throughout the year” Dean said, adding that while this year’s travel numbers are higher than those in 2021, they’re not quite where we were pre-pandemic.  

Dean also revealed when he and other AAA experts believe will be the best times for travelers to avoid traffic while on the road this Thanksgiving break.

“So, if you’re traveling on Wednesday and you have the ability leave early in the morning before 8 a.m., or leave after 8 p.m., as long as you don’t mind driving in the dark, you should avoid some of the biggest backups out there because you’ll be after that evening rush.” he said. 

Dean also added that the best time for travelers to get on the road after the holiday may not be when one typically expects.

“Most people tend to come back on Sunday because the kids have to be back to school and people have to be back to work on Monday. So, if you’re leaving on Sunday, leave before 11 a.m. or after 8 p.m., and that should keep you out of the worse backups,” he said. 

According to AAA experts, this year is expected to have the third highest rate of Thanksgiving holiday travel across the country since tracking began back in 2000.