- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2019

Travelers beware! The greater Washington area will experience “mind-numbing gridlock” on roads this holiday season, AAA Mid-Atlantic warns.

“Over 3.6 million persons residing in Virginia, Maryland and the Washington metro area will embark on Thanksgiving road trips,” John Townsend II, spokesman for the automobile owners club, said in a press release.

“As a result, holiday travelers exiting the area and those staying put for the holiday, will encounter heavier traffic congestion, as well as travel delays that are almost three times longer than the normal delays — if there is such a thing around here — during the afternoon rush hours on any given Wednesday,” Mr. Townsend said.

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With the Wednesday before the holiday and the Sunday after traditionally having the highest volume of travel, AAA Mid-Atlantic is predicting a nearly 500% increase in delays on stretches of the Capital Beltway and a 2% increase in the number of travelers by car compared to Thanksgiving weekend in 2018.

According to AAA and transportation analytics company INRIX, the top three worst areas and times for D.C.-area traffic on Wednesday are:

⦁ The Inner Loop of the Beltway between Interstate 66 and the Interstate 270 Spur at 3:30 p.m.

⦁ The Outer Loop of the Beltway between Branch Avenue and U.S. 1 at 4:45 p.m.

⦁ Intestate 95 South between Fort Belvoir and Warrenton at 3:30 p.m.

What’s more, INRIX predicts that traffic will spill over into city streets and arterial roads, meaning no roadways are safe from congestion.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officers are ramping up their efforts to keep roadways safe from motorists driving under the influence on one of the busiest weekends of the year.

Starting Wednesday, troopers from all 23 Maryland State Police barracks will be focusing enforcement efforts on impaired driving and other violations that contribute to unsafe roads.

Troopers statewide will be visible on I-95, I-695 and I-495, according to a press release from state police. Police barracks also will set up sobriety check; one is scheduled for Wednesday in Harford County.

Last Thanksgiving weekend, Maryland State Troopers stopped more than 7,000 vehicles, issued more than 4,500 citations to drivers and charged 130 motorists with driving under the influence.

Virginia State Police emphasized distracted driving prevention with its “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated” campaign.

“The choices you make as a vehicle driver impact not only you and your passengers, but everyone else you happen to be sharing the road with at that given moment,” said Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Gary Settle. “Avoid distractions, ensure everyone in your vehicle is buckled up, comply with speed limits and never drive drunk. If we drive like every car is filled with our friends and family, we can make sure there are no empty chairs at the Thanksgiving table this year.”

The state police also are participating in Operation C.A.R.E. (Crash Awareness and Reduction Effort), which resulted in almost 600 passengers cited for not buckling up and almost 200 citations for child safety seat violations last year.

In addition, Virginia State Police cited more than 7,600 speeders and more than 2,000 reckless drivers last Thanksgiving weekend.

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