A new AAA survey of New Jersey drivers finds COVID-19 concerns surrounding travel has dropped dramatically, and more people are ready to hit the roads or take to the skies for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

AAA is projecting that almost 1.3 million New Jersey residents will travel over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, an increase of almost 14% over last year and just shy of the record number of Thanksgiving holiday travelers in 2019.

As usual, 90% of New Jersey travelers will be driving to their holiday destinations. That means 1.2 million New Jerseyans will be hitting the roads.

AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Tracy Noble said that's up almost 9% over last year.

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When asked about COVID, the survey found that only 6% of New Jersey residents feel traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday poses a "significant" risk for COVID compared to 34% who felt that way last year.

Air travel sees big increase

The survey also finds that air travel is seeing the biggest jump with more than an 80% increase year-over-year, said Noble. That equates to approximately 116,000 New Jerseyans who will take to the skies. That's a jump of almost 81% over last year but still down 9% from the number of residents who flew over the same holiday weekend in 2019.

Gas prices causing some to stay home

And while travel is up overall, high gas prices have caused some New Jerseyans to put the brakes on holiday travel.

When asked if high gas prices were the reason they were not traveling over the extended holiday weekend, 35% of those surveyed said gas prices played a part in their decision to stay home.

Noble said right now the average price for a gallon of regular in the Garden State sits at $3.45. That's up $1.24 over last year and the highest gas prices have been at this time of year since 2013.

Be prepared

Noble is reminding drivers to slow down and move over for tow truck drivers, emergency first responders, and other motorists who are assisting on the side of the road.

AAA plans to be busy and is expecting to rescue 6,000 motorists over Thanksgiving weekend in New Jersey alone, with almost half of those calls expected to require a tow.

Make sure your car is road-ready before taking the family on a holiday trip. Noble said if the car battery has not been inspected in the last three to five years, then inspect the battery. Make sure fluid levels are topped off and check the tire treads.

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