Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

You've been warned: The worst times to drive in Atlanta this Christmas Eve


More than 103 million Americans—the most on record—are expected to travel for the year-end winter holidays, according to a new report from the AAA . And the last thing anyone needs is a dreaded standstill taking away from the holiday cheer.

To help, Waze , the world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app, released the worst times for folks to be out and about on Christmas Eve based on data from last year's driving patterns.

This is what analysts found :

  • Last minute shoppers attempted to find gifts between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., with a 16 percent increase in routes to retail destinations.
  • Grocery runs for forgotten ingredients and last minute menu additions were highest between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., with a 34 percent increase in routes to supermarkets.
  • Consumers prefer eating lunch out on Christmas Eve. Waze saw a 27% increase in routes to restaurants between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Most out-of-towners hit their destinations prior to Christmas Eve; as there was a mere 8 percent increase in routes to airports between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Traffic routes to places of worship were up 148 percent throughout the entirety of Christmas Eve.

So in general, plan ahead and avoid getting on the roads between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Instead, opt to get your holiday shopping out of the way beforehand and create organized grocery lists to avoid that dreaded last-minute run to the supermarket.

You likely won't avoid Atlanta traffic altogether, but a little planning may go a long way.

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About the Author

Fiza Pirani is a web producer and writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She is also currently investigating immigrant and refugee mental health stigma and health care access as a recipient of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism.