Drivers beware. Cold, wet weather is moving in on the two heaviest travel days of the year, sandwiching the busiest shopping day of the year and the biggest football game of the year.
AAA Carolinas predicted 567,000 travelers will be on the roads between Wednesday and Sunday. Most are traveling a distance greater than 50 miles.
Even without the winter weather and the Carolina-Clemson game, AAA Carolinas calls the five-day period “one of the most dangerous annual holidays” due to heavy traffic. Ten people lost their lives during Thanksgiving travel on South Carolina roads last year.
S.C. Highway Patrol will be among the many agencies trying to keep the roads safe Wednesday through Sunday.
“There’s a lot going on for the Thanksgiving travel period including shopping and big in-state rivalry games so the biggest thing is congestion. You’ll know that everyone that can be on the roadway that is planning on driving will be on the roadway. So the biggest thing is to just plan ahead and have plenty of patience,” Sgt. Bob Beres of the S.C. Highway Patrol told South Carolina Radio Network. “Our plan is target zero. Zero fatalities, zero collisions and zero incidents during the Thanksgiving weekend. That’s our goal.”
Beres said Saturday’s big game around Columbia could see an additional 100,000 people on the roads. That traffic should be localized to the Columbia area. The following day, Sunday, however, will see a statewide spike in traffic as travelers attempt to return home, he said.
Expect congestion along South Carolina interstates 95, 20, 385, 26 and 77, Beres said.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, weather reports call for rain, and a cold weather is expected throughout most of the state Wednesday night. Beres said ice is expected for Upstate bridges, where troopers will be ready with sand, but said ice shouldn’t affect the rest of the state.
Sunday has a slight chance of rain, and Monday is expected to be rainy.
So far there have been 680 traffic fatalities in the state. The number is down from the 733 during same time frame in 2012, according to the Highway Patrol.
Traveling and need a break from the congestion? The S.C. State Transport Police, the S.C. Trucking Association and S.C. Highway Patrol will hold “Safety Breaks” at three rest stops around the state. These locations will be I-85 south bound at the Cherokee County Welcome Center, I-26 east bound at the Orangeburg Rest Area and I-95 north bound at the Colleton County Rest Area.