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Airport chaos could mean busier New Year's travel weekend on California Highways

Mileage Standards
Posted at 10:30 PM, Dec 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-30 02:48:24-05

Law enforcement agencies across California are gearing up for New Year’s Eve as millions of Californians hit the roads once again.

Highways across California could be even busier than expected this New Year’s weekend as people try to avoid the chaos that has been plaguing airports.

Airlines were still reeling from thousands of delayed and canceled flights on Thursday as travelers try to get home from their Christmas destinations.

“So, I’m actually going to be traveling back to Chicago where I’m from,” said Aidan Beals who lives in Chicago and was visiting the Central Coast for Christmas. His vacation ended up being longer than expected, but he hopes to make it back home in time for the new year.

“It’s been pretty crazy. I’ve had my flights changed a couple of times and hopefully, I’ll be actually able to get somewhere when it’s time to get on the plane,” he said.

AAA says that ongoing flight issues mean that highways and freeways could be even busier in the coming days.

“Now, the number of people who are driving may increase because a lot of the flight troubles that some people had during this holiday season,” said AAA Spokesperson Doug Shupe.

Heavy rain in the forecast could further complicate new year’s travel, but AAA says that weather has less of an impact on holiday travel plans than you’d think.

“Typically, the weather will not change travel plans however, the auto club does encourage people to prepare for wet roads,” said Shupe.

The California Highway Patrol is gearing up for its maximum enforcement period which starts Friday evening and lasts through Monday.

“So, we already are at 75 percent of our available units,” said Public Information Officer Miguel Alvarez.

Officers will be on heightened alert for people driving under the influence as well as distracted and reckless driving.

“As far as whether it’s going to be busier-- I will say that rain has kept us pretty steady, but I don’t think we’re expecting anything too crazy.”

For those who still need to drive to their new year’s destination, AAA recommends leaving sooner rather than later, especially on Friday.

“If you’re leaving Friday, you really want to try to avoid that afternoon commute between 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. when people who are heading home from work would be mixing in with travelers heading in and out of town,” said Shupe.

AAA recommends checking your windshield wipers, headlights and tires before heading out.

AAA expects 9.2 million people to travel 50 miles or more across Southern California.

Those numbers, however, lump in Christmas and new year’s together.