L.A. Traffic Expected to Increase Thursday — the Worst Day for Road Travel This Holiday Season: AAA

Traffic is expected to increase in Los Angeles and cities around the U.S. on Thursday as motorists hit the roads and head out to their holiday destinations.

A record-breaking 112.5 million travelers -- more than one-third of Americans -- are expected to travel by car, air and rail this holiday season, according to a AAA forecast.

That figure is 4.4 percent higher than the same period last year, and the highest number of travelers expected since AAA began tracking the seasonal figures in 2001.

A record number of Americans -- approximately 102.1 million -- will get to their destinations by car, according to the automobile club.

Along with the high volume of motorists on the road, AAA warned of an uptick in traffic beginning on Wednesday, Dec. 19. But the worst travel day for drivers across the nation will be Thursday, Dec. 20.

“With a record-level number of travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in major metro areas," Trevor Reed, a transportation analyst at global mobility analytics company INRIX, said in a AAA news release.

The agency says that Thursday will be the worst day to travel in the L.A. area, with the worst time being between 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Commutes during that time are forecast to take twice as long as usual, so drivers planning to navigate the congested roadways should give themselves plenty of extra time during those afternoon hours.

“Our advice is to avoid traveling during peak commuting hour," said Reed. "If schedules allow, leave bright and early, or after the morning commute.”

Despite the holiday, there is some good news for motorists: gas prices are continuing to decline. Drivers can expect to pay an average of $3.45 for a gallon of regular gasoline in L.A. County, according to the latest figures from AAA. That's more than 20 cents less from a month ago, though the cost ticked slightly higher from a week ago.

Cheaper gas across the U.S. -- the average national price is $2.36 -- was cited as one of the motivating factors for more Americans hitting the road this holiday season.

Behind road trips, air travel was the second most common form of transportation being used for the holiday season, with 6.7 million people expected to fly during the period. That's the most in 15 years.

Air travelers can expect Dec. 22, Dec. 23 and Dec. 26 to be the busiest days at airports, according to AAA. The best days to fly are Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

And finally -- about 3.7 million passengers will travel by train, bus or cruise ship this holiday season. That number is also up by about 4 percent from the previous year.

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