December 19, 2018 News Release

PA Turnpike expects more than six million holiday motorists to travel during the Christmas and New Year timeframe

PA Turnpike expects more than six million holiday motorists to travel during the Christmas and New Year timeframe

HARRISBURG, PA (Dec. 19, 2018) —The PA Turnpike Commission (PTC) today projected that 6.3 million vehicles will travel the Turnpike during the holiday period beginning Thursday, Dec. 20 and concluding with the new year on Tuesday, Jan. 1.

“While there may be a white Christmas in parts of Pennsylvania with heavy rain and snow in the forecast for later this week, the weather does not seem to be a deterrent for those heading out for the holidays,” said PTC CEO Mark Compton. “Typically, the Christmas through New Year holiday is among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year, with 90 percent of travel occurring by car. Most of the traffic is expected to be spread out over the holiday week. However, this year many holiday travelers will head out on Thursday, Dec. 20.”

The PTC expects Thursday and Friday of this week to be the most heavily traveled days with 675,000 vehicles on the roadway each day. The lightest travel days are projected to be Dec.29 with about 350,000 vehicles, followed by Dec. 25 and 30 with about 410,000 vehicles each day.

“Just in time for the holiday season, the PA Turnpike has developed a new application to assist in detecting incidents as quickly as possible and help to maintain overall situational awareness across our 552-mile roadway,” explains Compton. “The Early Warning Detection (EWD) tool is an application that monitors the entire roadway and identifies ‘watchpoints’ based on specific criteria. Our Traffic Operations Center staff can use this tool to monitor and look at a section of roadway and know the real-time speed, active Waze alerts and weather within a half mile segment of road. Traffic operations staff can then immediately investigate to determine any needed responses.”

With traveler safety in mind, the Turnpike will increase police, safety and maintenance patrols throughout the holiday period. According to Lt. David Devitt of Pennsylvania State Police “Troop T,” police patrols will focus on moving violations, including aggressive and distracted driving, to ensure motorists arrive safely at their destinations. 

“With millions of travelers on the roadway this week and next, many will be driving long distances, under stress, and in hazardous conditions, said Lt. Devitt. “Please allow yourself extra travel time.  Keep your eyes on the road and be mindful that the weather can change quickly across the Turnpike.”

The PA Turnpike has planned accordingly for heavy traffic. Motorists should not be detained by any scheduled maintenance or construction projects. All lanes will be open beginning 5 a.m. on Dec. 21 until 11 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 1. Construction projects are suspended during this time.

On New Year’s Eve, HMSHost will offer free coffee at all Turnpike service plaza vendors (except for Starbucks) from 9 p.m. through 5 a.m. on Jan. 1

To report an accident or other emergencies on the PA Turnpike, dial *11 on your mobile phone. If there is an accident, move the car out of travel lane and onto shoulder, if possible, and stay in the vehicle. For more information about PA Turnpike conditions or to contact us, use one of these resources:


·        Dynamic Message Signs — nearly 100 signs along the Turnpike

·        Highway Advisory Radio — 1640 AM (tune-in near interchanges)


·        Turnpike Roadway Information Program (toll-free) — 866-976-TRIP (8747)

·        Customer Assistance Center (toll-free) — 800-331-3414 (weekdays, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.)


·        TRIPTalk — free, travel-alert smartphone app; download at

·        Travel Conditions Map — live, interactive conditions map; view at

·        Waze  — a crowd-sourced navigation app that provides real-time traffic conditions with input from other drivers; download at


Carl DeFebo, 717-831-7176
or Rosanne Placey, 717-831-7507