COLUMBUS — AAA expects Independence Day travel numbers to beat last year’s record, with 48.9 million Americans (2.1 million Ohioans) traveling at least 50 miles from home between Wednesday, July 3 and Sunday, July 7. This is an increase of more than 4 percent nationally (4.7 percent in Ohio) from last year, despite a one-day shorter holiday period.
Economy Continues to Boost Travel
Strong economic fundamentals continue to help boost travel numbers. Low unemployment, rising disposable incomes and robust consumer spending are all encouraging more consumers to invest in their hard-earned money in travel this summer.
“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 Paula Twidale, vice president, AAA Travel. “This holiday builds on the strong travel demand season for Memorial Day, and with schools now out of session across the country, families coast to coast are eager to travel.”
Fourth of July is typically the busiest summer travel holiday, since school is out and many families take their big summer trip during this time.
A record 1.9 million Ohioans will drive to their destinations this Independence Day. With nearly 88,000 more Ohioans on the road this holiday, travelers can expect added congestion. INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, expects the heaviest traffic Wednesday afternoon, July 3, as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers.
“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.
Motorists may also run into construction delays during their Independence Day road trips. ODOT is working on more than 1,000 construction projects across the state this year. Work zones require extra attention from drivers. Efforts have been made to reduce the size of work zones as much as possible to accommodate the increased holiday traffic. However, it isn’t possible to remove all the orange barrels.
During the holiday weekend, Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers will also be highly visible and urging motorists to drive carefully and follow all traffic laws. As part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over enforcement campaign, the Patrol’s primary focus will be removing impaired drivers from the roadways. Last year in Ohio, four fatal crashes killed eight people during the July Fourth holiday weekend. Of those fatalities, one crash and three fatalities were OVI related.
With an increased number of motorists on the roadways, vehicle breakdowns are also likely. AAA expects to assist more than 367,000 motorists, including nearly 15,000 in Ohio, with dead batteries, flat tires, lockouts and more. To avoid a breakdown this holiday, motorists should ensure their car is road trip ready by taking it to a trusted repair facility for routine maintenance.
Drivers can prepare for emergencies by packing an emergency road kit, including a mobile phone charger, flashlight, first-aid kit, basic toolkit, and drinking water and snacks for all passenger.
A record-breaking 3.96 million Americans will travel by air, a 5.3 percent increase and the 10th consecutive year of air travel growth. In Ohio, nearly 92,000 people plan to fly, a 5 percent increase and the third consecutive year of air travel growth.
According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, average airfares for the top 40 domestic flight routes will cost 10 percent more this Independence Day, with a round trip ticket averaging $188. Higher prices may be attributed to higher demand and consumers’ willingness to pay.
Other Travel Expenses
Travelers can expect to pay more to rent a car and stay at mid-range hotels this Independence Day. Daily car rental rates have risen 5 percent to an average $69 per day. The average nightly rate at AAA Two Diamond and AAA Three Diamond hotels is also up slightly to average nightly rates of $153 and $189 respectively.
Top Fireworks Destinations
For travelers still looking for a last minute trip this holiday, AAA Ohio Auto Club travel specialists compiled a list of some of the best places to travel for 4th of July fireworks. These include:
Washington D.C. — Celebrate the nation’s birthday at the nation’s capital with Capitol Fourth. During this celebration the national orchestra performs a concert on the Capitol lawn. D.C. also offers an incredible fireworks display, and Independence Day parade and an early Nationals baseball game.
Niagara Falls, Ont. — Watching fireworks over the falls adds to the beauty and wonder of this destination.
Cincinnati, Ohio — Red, White and Blue Ash offers a free concert with some impressive fireworks.
New York City — Macy’s hosts the largest 4th of July fireworks display in the U.S. This production shoots off the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge.
Columbus, Ohio — Red White and Boom kicks off Wednesday, July 3 in Downtown Columbus and is the largest fireworks display in Ohio and the Midwest.