Wednesday before Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year as people are getting a jump on the holiday traffic.
Couple that with gas prices that are the lowest in years, more people will be hitting the road over the long holiday weekend.
Tuesday afternoon saw heavy traffic on Highway 101 through San Luis Obispo County that was reduced to a rush hour crawl after a combination of accidents and a truck fire near the Tassajara Creek Road exit.
It created an endless stream of brake lights along northbound Highway 101 through San Luis Obispo that left people stuck in traffic for over an hour.
“Yeah it was pretty bad”, says driver Jeff Miller, “I caught it at Los Osos Valley Road in San Luis Obispo, I tried to get off the freeway and get around town and beat it and got back on at Monterey and it was terrible.”
“A very, very long time, it seemed like forever”, adds north SLO County resident Bonnie who declined to give her last name.
Bonnie and Jeff Miller were among several motorists who were forced off the side of the Highway on the Cuesta Grade after burning through the clutch on their manual transmissions or overheating in the uphill, stop and go traffic.
“Oh, I lost my clutch”, Bonnie says while sitting behind the wheel of her car waiting for a tow truck.
“My electrical system on my Hybrid just stopped working so I had to pull over”, Jeff Miller says, “I almost got in an accident pulling over.”
“Between the grade and the stop and go traffic and the loaded car, the car was getting pretty warm and we had some clutch issues”, says Cal Poly student Ben Siantar who is driving three other students up to the Bay Area, “so we had to pull over and let her cool down a little bit, hopefully we’ll be able to get going again pretty soon.”
Even past the Cuesta Grade, northbound Highway 101 remained very slow all the way into Paso Robles until traffic started flowing again early in the evening.
According to TripAdvisor’s annual Thanksgiving travel survey, 25% will be traveling today with 60% driving (up 3% from last year) to their destinations and 35% will be flying.
According to the survey, travelers will be driving farther this year as 60% of those driving will travel more than 200 miles, up 9% from last year.
In fact, 63% plan to travel during off peak hours to avoid holiday traffic.
The California Highway Patrol will be in a Maximum Enforcement Period from Wednesday night through midnight Sunday.
The CHP warns holiday travelers there will be zero tolerance for speeding, not wearing seat belts and talking on cell phones behind the wheel as well as drinking and driving.
Of the 33 people killed last year over the long Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, the CHP says 14 were involved in vehicle collisions and 43% were not wearing seat belts.