December 19, 2019 News Release

Travelers Advised to Brace for Increased Traffic Levels on PA Turnpike

More than 6.6 million will be hitting the road for the holiday

HARRISBURG, PA (Dec. 19, 2019) —The PA Turnpike Commission (PTC) today forecasted another record-setting holiday travel period with more than 6.6 million motorists traveling the Turnpike beginning on Thursday, Dec. 19 through the new year on Wednesday, Jan. 1.

“We have added resources to address any traffic and safety concerns due to the increased holiday traffic,” said PA Turnpike CEO Mark Compton. “We are prepared, and our goal is to provide our customers the best travel experience possible. We also encourage travelers to prepare by using our real-time traffic and roadway conditions online and allowing plenty of time to navigate to, and from, their holiday destinations. Consider traveling during less busy times. If not, build in time, patience and take breaks along the way.”  

For those hitting the road, the busiest days will be Friday, Dec. 20, and Dec. 27 and Monday, Dec. 23 with over 600,000 vehicles each day.

The lightest travel days are projected to be Wednesday, Jan. 1 with 325,000 vehicles, followed by Wednesday, Dec. 25 with 400,000 vehicles and then Sunday, Dec. 22 and Dec. 29 with about 425,000 each day.

Other days’ traffic volumes will be:

  • Saturday, Dec. 21 with 530,000 vehicles;

  • Tuesday, Dec. 24 with 500,000 vehicles;

  • Thursday, Dec. 26 with 550,000 vehicles;

  • Saturday, Dec. 28 with 545,000 vehicles;

  • Monday, Dec. 30 with 580,000 vehicles;

  • Tuesday, Dec. 31 with 485,000 vehicles.

With the safety of travelers in mind, the Turnpike will increase safety and maintenance patrols throughout the holiday period.In addition, according to Public Information Officer Corporal Holly Reber-Billings of the Pennsylvania State Police, Troop T Patrols will have a visible presence focusing on moving violations, including aggressive and distracted driving to ensure motorists arrive safely at their destinations. “Many of the millions of travelers on the roadway this week and next will be driving long distances, under stress and in hazardous conditions,” said Corporal Reber-Billings.  “Please keep your eyes on the road and be mindful that the weather can change quickly across the Turnpike.”

Earlier this year the PA Turnpike implemented a new traffic engineering program that integrates vast amounts of data and resources to detect incidents as soon as possible. The program known as Catch it Early, Act, Analyze and Review (CAAR)  also enables the traffic center’s duty officers to then swiftly deploy the appropriate response. This award-winning program has decreased incident duration times by more than 30 minutes; meaning that incidents have been cleared and traffic is flowing again.

Any scheduled construction or maintenance projects will be suspended during the holidays. All lanes will be open beginning 5 a.m. on Dec. 20 until 11 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 1.

HMSHost will offer free coffee at all food vendors (except for Starbucks) from 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve 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.

Before you go, check for travel conditions on the PA Turnpike by using this map.

Follow the keys to safety by clicking here.

Check all PA roadways at:

For service plaza locations and amenities click here.

Follow the PA Turnpike on social media:


PA Turnpike Twitter for news and helpful information

Alerts Twitter Page for up-to-date travel conditions and reminders

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