AAA predicts record-breaking 4th of July travel weekend
DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - The traveling season is back in full swing and in big numbers. AAA predicts this year to be the busiest 4th of July travel weekend in history.
“This year’s 4th of July, Independence Day, travel weekend is going to be the busiest we have ever had, ever,” Clay Ingram, AAA Alabama Public Relations and Marketing Manager, said.
Ingram said the year 2019 holds the current record, but this year that’s expected to change.
AAA forecasts this year to be even busier than pre-pandemic levels, making 2023 a record-setting year.
“I think there is still a good bit of pent-up demand leftover from the pandemic, and we seem to sort of have the pandemic in our rear-view mirror now,” Ingram said.
50.7 million people will travel 50 miles or more this 4th of July weekend, according to AAA.
“It’s just a necessity nowadays for most people to get out and go somewhere, get away from our hectic fast-paced lives that we are bouncing around in just day after day after day,” Ingram said. “It used to be a luxury but nowadays people really sacrifice a lot of other things at some point and, of course, summertime is the best time when the kids are out of school and the weather is nice and people will be headed to the beaches and Orlando area.”
Ingram suggests the best time to travel to your Independence Day destination is during the early mornings or evenings.
He said this is when there are typically fewer cars on the roads.
“The middle part of the day, the late morning through late afternoon is usually going to be the worst times, the busiest times, and you’re going to see more crashes, more slowdowns, things like that,” Ingram said.
He encourages travelers to get a head start on a “shoulder day,” the Friday going into a holiday weekend.
He said that’s going to be a little less busy for drivers because people will still be working before the holiday weekend really kicks off.
The best day to travel back from your 4th of July vacation is on Wednesday, the 5th.
But keep in mind, the day of Independence Day will be busy all around
“There will be people traveling to same-day events, going to somebody’s house for a BBQ, going back, there will be people traveling back home that day so they can go to work on Wednesday,” Ingram said. “So, if you can go the Wednesday after, that’s going to be better, or the Friday before, it will probably save you a little frustration with that traffic as well.”
Ingram wants drivers to make it to and from their destination safely and efficiently. He said drivers need to have an emergency kit in their car before leaving home to be prepared for any issues that may arise. Some important items to include are water, snacks, and cell phone chargers.
He also suggests getting your car checked by a certified technician to make sure everything is working properly. Technicians can check for issues the average person isn’t able to identify as potential problems, like belts and hoses that deteriorate from the inside out.
“You want to be sure before you get your vehicle safe before you get your family on the road in that family vehicle,” Ingram said.
Ingram emphasized that it is crucial for all drivers to eliminate any and all distractions. With the high volume of traffic this weekend, he said there will be more cars on the road, some closer than usual making your reaction time and margin of error less than usual.
“Being distracted could be a very, very dangerous thing if you’re the one driving a family vehicle so let someone else in the vehicle handle all those other tasks, changing the radio station, reading the map, answering the phone, whatever it might be so the driver can keep his or her focus on the road,” Ingram said.
Also, it’s important to be on the lookout for other drivers, some of which are not abiding by the rules and driving aggressively.
“That’s why it’s so important to keep your eyes and focus on the road and your surroundings so that you can watch for those people that may be doing something behind the wheel that is distracting that they shouldn’t be doing,” Ingram said.
Another tip from Ingram, add extra pad time to your travel schedule to avoid feeling stressed or frustrated when or if you get behind schedule because the traffic may be moving slowly. He said this can, at times, turn dangerous if the driver gets in a hurry and tries to get ahead of cars. This can put people on the highways and your family at risk of danger.
Ingram said by sitting back and going with the flow you will be less stressed, safer, and even save money on gas by optimizing your miles per gallon.
Beyond Independence Day weekend, AAA is predicting 2023 to be the busiest travel year than any year they have ever had, according to Ingram. He said they aren’t just seeing the increase in domestic travel but international travel as well.
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