Give thanks if you were among the travelers who avoided the traffic jams, airline delays and rail snags that were anticipated yesterday: Despite record numbers of people setting out on what typically is one of the busiest travel days of the year, few serious problems were reported.
By contrast, rush hour Tuesday evening was worse than usual, an indication that people may have heeded advice to begin their Thanksgiving holiday early.
By midafternoon yesterday, few accidents had been reported, and traffic on most highways was moving smoothly, officials said. By evening, traffic was lighter than for a typical weekday rush hour.
"People expect traffic is going to be heavy, and they do plan ahead, they prepare for it," said Valerie Burnette Edgar, spokeswoman for the State Highway Administration.
An estimated 617,000 Marylanders are driving at least 100 miles from home over the holiday weekend, according to AAA-Mid-Atlantic. That's up 4 percent from a year ago - despite a significant increase in gas prices.
"We're not really too surprised because the numbers were up for Memorial Day and July 4, too," said Myra Weiman of AAA. "The economy is still booming and people are still traveling. Just because gasoline is 25 cents higher, that won't prevent them from being with family and friends."
Highway officials said the biggest glitch yesterday was a practical joke by a Washington, D.C., radio personality, who announced on his morning program that Interstate 95 between Baltimore and Washington would be closing between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
"Apparently, he said he had a plane to catch and he wanted to clear the roads," said Edgar. But his comment led to the agency's operations center and state police being inundated with hundreds of phone calls, she said.
"People definitely got hyper about it," she added. And highway officials returned the favor by giving callers the radio station's number. "I'm sure the police were a little more stern that we were," said Edgar.
The DJ may have gotten an earful from authorities, but Maryland State Police did not file charges.
In the office overlooking the Fort McHenry toll booths, Sgt. Deborah Stewart took more routine calls from motorists and her staff.
One woman who routinely drives the route using the electronic M-TAG pass phoned to complain about having to wait in line with drivers paying their tolls the traditional way.
With out-of-state drivers making up the overwhelming number of customers yesterday, Stewart explained, it was impossible to set aside a booth for M-TAG users only.
"One person zooming through doesn't compare to 25 not zooming through," she said after hanging up. "She wasn't happy about that. She's used to that privilege, she still wants to zoom through."
Travelers at Baltimore-Washington International Airport yesterday morning said they were surprised to move through check-in lines quickly. The airport, which expects more than 400,000 people to pass through over the extended weekend, reported few delays and no cancellations.
"As the day goes longer, we're wondering if the big rush is going to come," BWI spokesman John White said in late afternoon. Except for a few late arrivals, mostly from Northeast cities, he reported few problems. Plenty of parking was available in the overflow lots, he added.
T. K. Ross, who works in Baltimore, was flying home to Dallas and called his experience at the airport "dandy." "There was no line, I was extremely disappointed," he said, jokingly. "I had my boarding pass three minutes after I got here.
Usafi Diamond and her daughter, Aja Diamond, arrived about an hour before their flight to New York, only to find that it was delayed for about an hour. But they said the extra time gave them a chance to eat.
"It's more of a relaxing atmosphere," said Aja Diamond, a student at Howard University.
Traffic grew steadily through the day at Penn Station, in line with Amtrak's estimates that Thanksgiving weekend ridership would be up 35 percent over last year.
Keke Simpson took the train from New York City to Baltimore, accompanied by her young daughters, Korby and Charlotte.
"The trip was very smooth," said Simpson. "In fact, my older daughter said this morning, `Mom, it's a little quiet.'" The downside? They couldn't bring their Maltese, Ruby. So Simpson's husband, Scott, will drive to Baltimore with the dog.
A couple of morning trains experienced minor delays, said customer service manager Patti Goldstein. By afternoon, she reported, "We're busy, but we're not swamped yet, and everything's on time. It's about what we expected."
There's still the potential for trouble Sunday. Besides being the day most people return home, the Ravens and Redskins have home games scheduled at 1 p.m.
Sun staff writer Laura Cadiz contributed to this article.