DALLAS — Professional truck driver Dale Hankins can’t remember the last time he was home for Christmas.
He’s been an independent driver for the past 10 years and most always spends the holidays inside the cab of his Kenworth.
“I don’t have a wife or kids, I am just sort of a loner here on the road,” Hankins said. “Some people ask me if I get lonely. I don’t. But the thing that gets me the most is the clogged roads during the holiday season.”
Travel over Christmas and New Year’s tends to spread out over many days, so the peaks in the U.S. are likely to be lower than they were during the Thanksgiving holiday.
The busiest days on the road will be Saturday, Dec. 24 and Thursday, Dec. 28, according to transportation data provider INRIX.
Hankins said he remembers a holiday season several years ago when he was stuck in traffic for more than five hours in the Atlanta area.
“I try to plan a little better these days,” he said. “It’s not that bad if you plan. I just grin and bear it. That’s all you can do.”
Drivers traveling through Tennessee will see some relief as the state has announced it is suspending road construction during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) is once again halting all lane closure activity on interstates and state highways in anticipation of higher traffic volumes across the state.
No temporary lane closures will be allowed for construction on Tennessee roadways beginning at 6 a.m. Friday, Dec. 22, 2023, through 6 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024.
AAA expects an estimated 2.7 million Tennesseans to travel between December 23 and January 1 with most of them driving.
“Safety is our top priority and with so many people expected to travel Tennessee roadways during the holidays, we want to keep traffic moving and get everyone to their destinations,” said Deputy Governor and TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley. “As always, please wear your seatbelt, reduce your speed, avoid distractions, and move over for emergency vehicles.”
Except for a few long-term closures that must remain for safety, all construction-related closures will be suspended during the holiday period.
Workers may still be on-site in some construction zones. Drivers should obey all posted speed limits, particularly in construction areas. Slower speeds are necessary in work zones due to the temporary layout of the roadway and will be enforced. Drivers convicted of speeding through work zones where workers are present face a fine of $250 to $500, plus court fees and possibly increased insurance premiums.
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.