How bad is Thanksgiving traffic?

Speeds on one freeway slowed by over 50 percent.


Driving on the 5 at rush hour is rarely fast. But on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the pre-holiday scramble slows traffic to a crawl.  


The average speed on the 5 South between Santa Clarita and the 10 on that day slowed by 50%, to an average of 20 mph.


The 405 and the 101 also slowed by more than 20%.


Here are the top five freeways to avoid on this pre-Thanksgiving Tuesday:



We calculated the average evening rush-hour speeds on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 2015 and 2016 (the latest available data) to see exactly how much freeways slow before the holiday. We then compared that data to the previous week’s average evening rush-hour speeds on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Freeways are generally slower on the Tuesdays before Thanksgiving than they are on the Wednesdays, our analysis found. Of the five freeways that slowed the most, four were on Tuesday.


The second slowest Tuesday freeway was the 405 South between the 118 and the 10, which slowed by an average of 36%.


Wednesday’s slowest freeway is also the 5 South between Santa Clarita and the 10, with speeds that decrease by an average of 26%, to 35 mph.



Wednesday isn’t as gridlocked as Tuesday, but both days see the same stretches of freeway slowing down, including the 5 South between Santa Clarita and the 10, the 405 South between the 118 and the 10, and the 5 North between the 605 and the 10, which you can see on the map.


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The data in this article come from sensors recording speeds on freeways across LA in 2015 and 2016. We used the Tuesday and Wednesday speed data from (11/17/15), (11/15/16), (11/18/15) and (11/16/16) to compare with the days prior to Thanksgiving, 2015 and 2016.


Speeds from 2017 were not available because of an interruption in the data transmission from the sensors.


For more information about our traffic data click here.