Planning to trek somewhere to meet family and friends to celebrate the Fourth of July? Make sure you’re going to be comfortable in your car because there will be more people on the road than ever, according to AAA, and this means more delays than ever.
Travel volume for the holiday is expected to rise 4.1% compared with last year to 48.9 million people — the vast majority by automobile. A record-high 41.4 million Americans plan to travel by automobile this Independence Day, and INRIX, a global mobility analytics company, predicts drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute, with Wednesday, July 3 the worst day on the roads.
“As Independence Day approaches, it’s time for the much-loved family road trip and this year will be one for the record books, with more Americans than ever planning vacations,” said Nick Jarmusz, Midwest director of public affairs for AAA – The Auto Club Group.
“This holiday builds on the strong travel demand seen for Memorial Day, and with schools now out of session across the country, families coast to coast are eager to travel.”
Nationwide, delays are expected to increase by approximately 9% with metro areas of large cities being hit the hardest.
“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays around our major metros,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Although travel times are expected to nominally increase throughout the week, hands down, Wednesday afternoon will be the worst time to be on the road.”
Before hitting the road, AAA recommends taking your vehicle in for an inspection to make sure it’s roadworthy. Additionally, motorists should be prepared for an emergency, which means having a first-aid kid, a flashlight with extra batteries, a basic tool kit as well as water and snacks in case you’re stranded roadside for an extended period.
AAA will rescue nearly 367,000 motorists at the roadside during the holiday for everything including dead batteries, flat tires and lockouts
With the thought of long delays looming there is at least one bright spot: gas prices are lower than what drivers paid last summer. A strong economy also means that travelers have more money to spend while they’re taking these trips.
With today’s national average of $2.61, gas prices are 23 cents less year-over-year and expected to drop even lower into the summer. This is motivating record numbers of travelers to take road trips for the holiday weekend.
“Gas prices are, on average, 20 cents cheaper than Memorial Day weekend, which is welcome news for motorists hitting the road to celebrate the July Fourth holiday,” said Jarmusz. “More so, summer gas prices are poised to continue dropping even lower in coming weeks.”