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Many families will hit the road for the holiday

November 23, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

More than half a million motorists driving long distances are expected to be on Maryland highways this week as part of the Thanksgiving holiday, according to information released by AAA.

A large portion of them will be on the road with their children, one AAA spokeswoman said.

AAA Spokeswoman Amanda Knittle said Thanksgiving traffic is expected to increase by 3 percent over the 2003 holiday and be the busiest holiday traffic season since 1999. She said an estimated 615,000 people will be driving 50 miles or more in the Maryland area.

"I think it's safe to say Thanksgiving is traditionally a holiday people spend with their families," Knittle said. "Families don't live in the same community anymore."

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Those trips often include multiple children in vehicles, Knittle said.

Knittle said one of the ways to combat restless and irritated children, which could lead to restless and irritated parents, is the use of technology. Knittle said a family-oriented DVD or a quiet, portable video game can buy parents some quiet time during their trip.

"You just want to make sure you don't get games with a lot of noise. That can make everyone crazy in a small, enclosed environment," she said.

AAA said motorists would be well served to stop every two hours to stretch, carry plenty of snacks and drinks, and pack the car the night before leaving to help avoid the age-old question from children, "Are we there yet?"

Knittle said drivers with families on board and without should try to avoid the roads during the busiest, most stressful traffic times of the weekend - Wednesday afternoon and throughout Sunday.

"If you could leave Tuesday and come back early Monday, you might just miss the many million Americans" who will be on the road, she said.

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