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Thanksgiving travel and safety tips as millions hit the road

2.5-million New Englanders will be traveling while the average price for a gallon of gas in CT is $3.55 a gallon

HARTFORD, Conn — If you're planning on hitting the open road for Thanksgiving, it might not be so open. Two and a half-million New Englanders will be traveling this year, which is a 15% increase over last year.

The night before Thanksgiving has also been called ‘Drinksgiving.’

“Thanksgiving-eve is one of the biggest party nights of the year,” explained Tracy Noble at AAA of Connecticut.

Connecticut State Police told FOX61 drunk driving arrests tend to increase the day before Thanksgiving. They’ll be out in force with both marked and unmarked patrols.

“Naturally with additional patrols out then the DUI grants come in. We get the DUI enforcement. You’ll see focused enforcement and you’ll probably see the numbers go up,” explained Sgt. Dawn Pagan.

So the motto is "plan before you party." Designate a sober driver or use a ride share service. The CT DOT is offering $10 off an Uber with the code “SAVETHENIGHTCT.”

“Keep the distractions to a minimum. People are going to be loading up their families into their vehicles so there is going to be a lot going on inside those cars,” said Sgt. Pagan.

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And it’s not just drunk drivers that you’ll need to watch out for, it’s the wildlife.

“We do see an increase in deer vehicle accidents,” explained DEEP wildlife biologist Andrew Labonte. Connecticut has about 100,000 whitetail deer, and now is peak rut or mating season.

“Seeking out a female to breed with so they are not paying attention to anything else but that female,” explained Labonte.

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Of those people traveling for Thanksgiving, 87% are going by car. The experts advise you to plan ahead.

“I already hit traffic coming from South Windsor to Rocky Hill so it’s going to be pretty bad,” remarked Chris Rempel of South Windsor.

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And be prepared for pain at the pump. Despite President Biden releasing oil from the strategic reserve, it won’t go down overnight.

“I just put $80 in and it’s only half a tank. The amount I drive it’s ridiculous. I fill it up every other day,” explained Rempel.

Shannon Tapley of Wallingford agreed.

“They are really high. I’m glad we aren’t traveling," Tapley said. "I’m glad we’re just going home because I can’t imagine traveling and gassing up there and back. It’s a lot. It’s expensive.”

The average price for a gallon of gas in CT this week was $3.55 a gallon. This time last year it was $2.10. AAA surveyed Connecticut residents not traveling for Thanksgiving and found that 35% of them said the high gas prices were a factor in their decision to stay home.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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