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Google Maps’ Thanksgiving Traffic Alert: Wednesday the Worst Day to Drive, Philadelphia Sees Biggest Increase in Holiday Traffic Traffic is worst between 3pm-5pm the day before Thanksgiving, Sunday the best day to return, according to data from 2012 and 2013
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Nov. 18, 2014 — Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOG, GOOGL) Google Maps today released traffic information for 21 cities* across the U.S. to reveal insights for avoiding Thanksgiving traffic as well as top searches in Google Maps before, during, and after Thanksgiving.
Traffic data was pulled from the Monday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after Thanksgiving during 2012 and 2013, and Google Maps search trends are based on information from 2013.
“You should spend your holidays with friends and family—not behind the wheel of a car,” said Aaron Nelson, Google Maps Product Manager. “To save you from traffic headaches this Thanksgiving, we’re giving you a look at Turkey Day traffic and trends, powered by Google Maps.”
Wednesday is the worst Thanksgiving traffic day for most cities, with Saturday the worst day to return
- Worst day to travel: For most cities, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the worst traffic day — with the exceptions of Boston (Tuesday), Honolulu (Saturday), Providence (Saturday), and San Francisco (Saturday).
- Skip the rush: The worst time for Thanksgiving traffic falls between 3:00pm and 5:00pm the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Better to leave before 2:00pm or after 7:00pm on Wednesday if you want to beat the rush.
- Second worst traffic day: Saturday and Tuesday vie for the second and third heaviest traffic days — Black Friday doesn’t draw huge road traffic.
- Thanksgiving Day traffic: Thanksgiving Day traffic is a breeze — it usually has the least traffic of the entire week; for those looking to beat even the lightest traffic day, make sure you stay off the road between 12:00pm and 2:00pm on Thanksgiving Day.
- When to drive back home: Traffic patterns show that you’re better off driving home from the holiday weekend on Sunday rather than Saturday — traffic can be up to 40% worse on Saturday.
- Changes in holiday traffic: In six cities, Thanksgiving traffic has actually decreased slightly between 2012 and 2013 (Boston, Dallas, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Providence).
Biggest increases in traffic during Thanksgiving week, from biggest (#1) to smallest (#21)
- Philadelphia, PA
- Austin, TX
- Washington D.C.
- Dallas, TX
- New York, NY
- Miami, FL
- Houston, TX
- Pittsburgh, PA
- Charlotte, NC
- Tampa, FL
- Los Angeles, CA
- St. Louis, MO
- San Francisco, CA
- Chicago, IL
- Honolulu, HI
- Portland, OR
- Detroit, MI
- Seattle, WA
- Providence, RI
- Boston, MA
- Denver, CO
Food and drink top Google Maps searches the day before Thanksgiving, and Detroit football fans looked for directions to the stadium
- Last minute prep: The top three trending searches on Google Maps the day before Thanksgiving were ham shop, pie shop, and liquor store, as Americans do last minute errands just before Turkey Day.
- Gearing up for Black Friday: “Outlet mall” is the #1 trending Google Maps search term on Thanksgiving Day. Meanwhile, “outlet mall” is only the #3 trending search term on Black Friday itself.
- Ready for Christmas: The top two Google Maps search trends on Black Friday had nothing to do with shopping — instead, people were already on to Christmas. The top two terms were: “Christmas tree farm” and “festival.”
- Thanksgiving football: Lions fans plan ahead. The day before Thanksgiving football, Detroit fans searched for directions to the stadium (#1) and parking garages (#2). In comparison, in Dallas, stadium is the #9 search trend the day before Thanksgiving.
State by State Findings
- Boston: In many cities, Google Maps search trends the day before Thanksgiving were focused on leisure activities, such as museum or aquarium. In Boston, however, the top trending terms include bus station and train station.
- Chicago: Chicagoans are having fun the Wednesday before Thanksgiving: “night club,” “observatory,” and “concert hall” all fall in the top five trending Google Maps search terms. The time with the worst traffic across all of Thanksgiving week in Chicago is 4:00pm on Wednesday.
- Honolulu: The worst time for traffic across all of Thanksgiving week in Honolulu is 11:00am on Saturday — distinctly different from the national trend which falls around 3:00-5:00pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
- Los Angeles: L.A. is the only city featuring “buffet restaurants” in the top three Google Maps search trends for Thanksgiving Day.
- New York: In New York, the heaviest traffic on Thanksgiving Day falls between 2:00pm and 3:00pm, later than most other cities.
For information on all 21 cities*, including methodology, infographics and B-roll please visit our press folder: http://goo.gl/WLByXr
For Thanksgiving traffic tips, which are based on these findings, please see our official blog post: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2014/11/google-maps-thanksgiving-traffic.html
About Google Maps
- Google Maps has more than a billion monthly active users, with live traffic in more than 60 countries
- When Google Maps gives you traffic estimates, it shows you a combination of historical and real-time traffic information, giving you the most holistic picture of traffic on your trip
- Google also incorporates incident reports from a variety of sources, including Waze, which appear on the map letting you know what’s up ahead (construction, accident, road closure, etc.)
- Automatic re-routing: If you’re navigating with Google Maps and traffic conditions change, a notification will pop up letting you know that a faster route is now available, so you can change course and save time driving
*Google Maps looked at 21 cities across the U.S. from the Monday before Thanksgiving through the Sunday after Thanksgiving for both 2012 & 2013: Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Providence, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, Washington, D.C.