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Thanksgiving Travelers Hit the Roads and Skies

Millions are expected to travel over the long holiday weekend, with Wednesday and Sunday likely to be the busiest

Millions of travelers will hit the roads and skies over the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, prompting local airport and law enforcement officials to launch appeals for common sense and safety.

Wednesday and Sunday are expected to handle the largest number of travelers, who are predicted to be out in slightly smaller numbers than last year.

According to AAA, 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the long weekend, with 90 percent traveling by car.

About 37 percent of all travelers were expected to depart for those trips Wednesday.

Thanksgiving is the busiest time of year for air travel in the country, according to Santa Barbara Airport officials, who are planning for the influx by encouraging flyers to plan ahead and arrive early.

For passenger convenience during peak travel times, the airport is offering a “curbside assistant” for those who need extra help getting their bags to the ticket counter, said Lynn Houston, an airport spokeswoman.

Houston said air passengers should arrive 1½ hours prior to flight departure to find parking, check in and to go through TSA security screening.

Law enforcement sent out friendly reminders of their own this week, urging drivers to be safe and wear seatbelts, and reminding residents that officers will be out in full force during the busy travel days.

California Highway Patrol sent out a message letting drivers know that Thanksgiving weekend — 6 p.m. Wednesday through midnight Sunday — is a "maximum enforcement" period.

During the same period last year, CHP officers throughout the state arrested more than 1,300 people for driving under the influence.   

Forty-four people were killed during the same holiday period last year, according to CHP Lt. Kurt Kruse, commander of the Buellton office.

"We want everyone to be able to enjoy celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday," Kruse said in a statement. "But if you’re going to be drinking, arrange in advance to have a designated driver who will not be drinking alcohol."

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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