Record breaking number of travelers expected this Independence Day
Published 10:40 am Tuesday, June 25, 2019
CHARLOTTE – More Americans than ever recorded by AAA, nearly 49 million, are making plans to honor the red, white and blue with an Independence Day getaway this year, as travel volume for the holiday is expected to rise 4.1% over last year.
An estimated 2,055,000 Carolinians (1,366,500 North Carolinians and 688,500 South Carolinians) are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from home this year.
“With low gas prices this season and school being out for the summer, Carolinians are planning to travel in record breaking numbers to celebrate the 4th,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “This year, the holiday falls on a Thursday, so many will take the whole week or create a long weekend to travel.”
For those planning a trip, AAA Carolinas predicts drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute, with Wednesday, July 3, being the worst day on the roads.
In addition to lower gas prices, broader economic fundamentals remain strong. Low unemployment, robust consumer spending, and rising disposable incomes are all encouraging more consumers to invest their hard-earned money in travel this summer.
Independence Day Travel Forecast
• 1,841,600 Carolinians (1,205,800 North Carolinians and 635,800 South Carolinians) will drive to their destinations, an increase of 4.3% from last year.
• 172,200 Carolinians (106,800 North Carolinians and 65,400 South Carolinians) are taking to the skies – increasing air travel by 5.3% from last year.
• 39,380 North Carolinians and 36,187 South Carolinians will look to other modes of transportation, such as cruises, trains and buses.
Lower gas prices
North Carolina’s current average of $2.43 is 23 cents less year-over-year and projected to drop even lower into the summer. Similarly, South Carolina’s $2.26 average is 23 cents less than this time last year, and continues to drop.
Travelers paying more for car rentals and airfares
Some of the savings travelers are enjoying from lower gas prices will go toward other travel costs this holiday, which are trending higher. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares on average are 10% more expensive compared with last Independence Day, while average car rental rates are 5% higher than last year, at $69 daily. Meanwhile, midrange accommodations are expected to cost travelers between $153 for AAA Two Diamond and $189 for AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels.
Top Independence Day Travel Destinations for Carolinians (according to AAA travel bookings)
1. Myrtle Beach
3. New Orleans
Increase in crashes on the roads over Independence Day
The week of Independence Day is a dangerous time to be on the roads. Over the holiday period in 2017 there were 4,130 crashes in North Carolina resulting in 19 fatalities – an increase from 2016’s 3,951 crashes and 18 fatalities. AAA Carolinas advises motorists to be extra vigilant on the roads and expect delays as well as heavy traffic and more pedestrians. Put away all distractions behind the wheel and map out your destination ahead of time.
“We want to remind motorists to put away distractions behind the wheel and to adhere to the rules of the road,” added Wright. “Be mindful of busier roads and pack your patience to avoid getting angry.”
AAA Carolinas expects to rescue more than 11,000 motorists this Independence Day weekend, with the primary reasons being lockouts, flat tires and battery-related issues. AAA recommends motorists take their vehicle to a trusted repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown.
Be prepared for emergencies with a mobile phone and car charger, a flashlight with extra batteries, a first-aid kit, a basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passengers.