FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Motor Vehicle Administration Highway Safety Office – 410-628-8447
State Highway Administration Communications – 410-545-0303
BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport Communications – 410-859-7027
Maryland Transportation Authority Communications – 410-537-1017
Maryland Transit Administration Communications – 410-767-8367
Safety is Key for Happy Holidays Whether Traveling by Plane, Train or Automobile
HANOVER, MD (November 20, 2023) – Marylanders are expected to take to highways, bridges, transit lines and airways in large numbers this Thanksgiving and throughout the holidays, and the Maryland Department of Transportation is urging everyone to practice safety, patience and courtesy as they travel. Employees across the department are ready to help travelers make connections with friends and loved ones that bring joy over the holidays, and want everyone to arrive at their destinations safe and sound.
“The holidays are a time for family, friends, food and fun, and our entire MDOT team is proud of the role we play in bringing people together to share those good times and build lasting memories," said Maryland Transportation Secretary Paul J. Wiedefeld. “We can help make sure all Marylanders celebrate a joyous Thanksgiving and holiday season by looking out for one another and remembering simple rules of safe travel: Take your time, pay attention, be courteous, be sure all passengers have buckled their seat belts and never drive impaired."
Nationally, AAA is predicting this year's Thanksgiving holiday will see 55.4 million people traveling. That's a 2.3% increase from 2022 and the highest number since 2019. AAA projects 4.7 million people will travel by air, an increase of 6.6% from last year and the highest number since 2005.
DRIVE SAFELY FOR THANKSGIVING AND THROUGHOUT THE HOLIDAYS
The holiday season is, regrettably, a time when Maryland traditionally experiences an increase in fatal crashes and injuries on our roadways. So far this year, 530 people have died in Maryland roadway crashes – that's 530 seats that will be empty at Thanksgiving tables across the state.
Officials across the Maryland Department of Transportation are sounding the alarm, and reminding everyone traveling this Thanksgiving week that the vast majority of crashes, fatalities and injuries are preventable. These rules of the road will save lives:
- Drive Sober. Never drive impaired by alcohol or drugs. Make a plan for a sober ride home.
- Buckle up. It's the law. Make sure all passengers, including those in back seats, are using seat belts.
- Slow down. Observe all posted speed limits.
- Pay Attention. Put the phone down. Eliminate all distractions and focus on driving.
- Be patient. Travel during off peak hours and allow extra time for unexpected delays.
- Share the Road. Drivers must look twice for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists.
- Move Over. Slow down or move over for all stopped, standing or parked vehicles along the roadside.
On Tuesday, November 21, Secretary Wiedefeld will join Governor Wes Moore, Lieutenant Governor Aruna Miller, Motor Vehicle Administration Chrissy Nizer and others for the 20th annual Maryland Remembers ceremony, which pays tribute to those lost on Maryland's roadways. The event is held at the start of the holiday season as a solemn reminder of the need to focus on safety during the holidays and all year.
Additionally, the Motor Vehicle Administration's Highway Safety Office announced this week it has received a grant in partnership from the Governors Highway Safety Association, Lyft and Responsibility.org to provide ride codes worth $20 for discounted rideshare trips during the holiday season, while they last. The credits are designed to encourage people to make a plan for safe travel when they partake in alcohol or cannabis or take medications that could impair their ability to drive. Details on the rideshare credits can be found here.
Law enforcement will be on patrol to stop suspected impaired drivers. In addition to risking injury or death for themselves and others, those driving under the influence risk arrest, jail time, legal costs and fines.
PLAN AHEAD, TRAVEL OFF PEAK
Those traveling Maryland's highways should expect congestion between Tuesday, November 21, and Sunday, November 26. Motorists are encouraged to travel off-peak if possible. The State Highway Administration will suspend lane closures for non-emergency roadwork from 5 a.m. Wednesday, November 22, through 9 p.m. Monday, November 27. For live traffic cameras and real-time roadway conditions, go to roads.maryland.gov.
The State Highway Administration's Coordinated Highways Action Response Team (CHART), as well as units from the Maryland Transportation Authority, will be on patrol to help motorists with breakdowns or incidents. If you must stop for a roadside emergency, remember to first assess the situation. If you are able to remain in your vehicle while help is on the way, stay buckled and face forward. If you must exit your vehicle, stand as far away from your vehicle and the roadway as possible.
At the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the Maryland Transportation Authority is advising holiday travelers to expect congestion and delays Tuesday, November 21, to Monday, November 27. The best times to travel will be:
- Tuesday, November 21 – before noon and after 8 p.m.;
- Wednesday, November 22 – before 9 a.m. and after 8 p.m.;
- Thursday, November 23 – before 10 a.m. and after 3 p.m.;
- Friday, November 24 – before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m.;
- Saturday, November 25 – before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m.; and
- Sunday, November 26 – before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m.
- Wednesday, November 22 – before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m.;
- Thursday, November 23 – before 11 a.m. and after 3 p.m.;
- Saturday, November 25 – before 10 a.m. and after 8 p.m.; and
- Sunday, November 26 – before 10 a.m. and after 8 p.m.
Motorists should stay on US 50 on both sides of the bridge to keep local roadways open for first responders and residents. Weather and traffic volumes permitting, two-way operations will be implemented to help alleviate eastbound delays. Please obey overhead lane use control signals. Two-way operations are prohibited during bridge wind warnings/restrictions, fog or precipitation. For 24/7 Bay Bridge traffic info call 1-877-BAYSPAN (1-877-229-7726) or visit baybridge.com.
The I-95 travel plazas – Chesapeake House in Cecil County and Maryland House in Harford County – are open 24/7 with food, indoor/outdoor seating, fuel and electric vehicle charging stations available.
Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration branch offices and Vehicle Emission Inspection Program (VEIP) stations will be closed Thursday, November 23. Branch offices will reopen Friday, November 24, by appointment only. VEIP testing will also resume Friday. VEIP testing does not require an appointment. Self-service VEIP kiosks, online services, and 24-hour kiosks will be available through the holiday week.
EASY COME, EASY GO AT BWI THURGOOD MARSHALL AIRPORT
Travelers using Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport over the holidays should allow plenty of time for parking, airline check-in and the TSA security checkpoints. In October, departing passenger traffic at the airport reached 865,669 passengers, an increase of 7.7% over October 2022. Even greater numbers are expected over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Customers should allow additional time if using the shuttle buses to travel between the parking lots or rail station and the airport terminal. For news and updates, go to www.bwiairport.com/ or on Twitter @BWI_Airport.
This week, the Transportation Security Administration came to BWI Marshall to share tips to make the checkpoint screening process go smoothly, including making sure travelers know whether the things inside their carry-on bags are permitted to be carried onto a flight. On its webpage, TSA has a “What Can I Bring?" feature that allows travelers to type in an item to determine if it can travel by airplane and how it should be packed.
USE TRANSIT FOR LOCAL VISITS, HOLIDAY SHOPPING
Whether you're going over the river or through the woods for Thanksgiving, remember the Maryland Transit Administration's bus, light rail, metro subway and MARC services are convenient ways to travel during the holiday season to visit family and friends – and to support local businesses. With real-time technology and the Transit app it's easy to know when the next bus or train will arrive. Learn more at www.mta.maryland.gov/transit.
On Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 23, the Maryland Transit Administration will operate on a modified schedule. Local bus, light rail and metro subway will follow the Sunday/Holiday schedule, while Commuter Bus will not operate Thanksgiving Day or on Friday, November 24, except for the Bus Route 201, which will operate on the Weekend/Holiday schedule both days.
MARC Train will not operate Thanksgiving Day. On Friday, November 24, MARC will not operate service on the Camden and Brunswick lines, but Penn Line service will operate on the Saturday schedule.
Mobility will operate on a Holiday schedule, with all standing rides canceled. Customers are asked to call the Mobility Call Center at 410-764-8181 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to reschedule Thanksgiving Day rides. For the latest information on Maryland Transit Administration service, check the website at mta.maryland.gov. To sign-up for email about service modifications and delays, go to mta.maryland.gov/enotifications.
The Maryland Department of Transportation wishes all Marylanders and visitors a safe, happy and healthy Thanksgiving and holiday season. Stay in touch with the department on X/Twitter @MDOTNews and on Facebook at facebook.com/MDOTNews/.
THANKSGIVING TRAVEL FORECAST GRAPHICS
Thanksgiving week travel forecast graphics for the Bay Bridge and the Baltimore and Washington D.C. regions are available at the links below for use in print and online presentations.