A record-breaking 46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Independence Day holiday, AAA estimates, an increase of more than five percent from last year and the highest number since the motor club started tracking 18 years ago.
For the 39.7 million Americans planning a July Fourth road trip, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be twice as long than the normal trip.
“This Independence Day will be one for the record books, as more Americans take to the nation’s roads, skies, rails and waterways than ever before,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of travel and publishing. “Confident consumers with additional disposable income will look to spend on travel this holiday, building on an already busy summer travel season.”
In addition to strong economic variables, the expected increase in travelers this year is helped by Independence Day falling on a Wednesday, giving travelers more flexibility to schedule a trip the weekend before or after the holiday.
The Independence Day holiday period this year is defined as Tuesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 8 according to AAA.
By the numbers:
Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers —39.7 million — will hit the road this Independence Day, 5.1 percent more than last year.
Planes: A record-breaking 3.8 million people will travel by air, a 7.9 percent increase and the ninth consecutive year of air travel volume increases.
Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 5.8 percent to a total of 3.5 million passengers.
INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the worst congestion over the holiday week on Tuesday, July 3 in the late afternoon, as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.
Travel times could increase twofold in the major metros across the U.S., with drivers in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., experiencing the most significant delays.
“With a record-level number of travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays around major metros,” said Scott Sedlik, INRIX general manager and vice president of the public sector. “Although travel times are expected to nominally increase throughout the week, Tuesday afternoon will hands down be the worst time to be on the road.
“Our advice to drivers is to avoid peak commuting hours altogether or consider alternative routes,” Sedlik said.