41M traveling this holiday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Today begins the official start of this year’s Fourth of July holiday, and travel is expected to be heavy. Locally, the increase in accidents has prompted law enforcement to issue a plea for safety both on and off the area’s roadways.

“Drivers need to slow down, obey all traffic laws and do not drink and drive,” said Sheriff Dennis Meeks. “We ask that everyone drive safe and be safe on this July 4th holiday.”

AAA projects 40.8 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the holiday weekend, a 0.8 percent decrease from last year.

traveled last year that expects attribute to the shorter holiday period.

With the Fourth of July landing on a Thursday this year, the holiday period has returned to the standard five-day holiday, compared to the six-day period in 2012 when the holiday fell on a Wednesday. Decade-high travel volume occurred in 2007 when 42.3 million Americans traveled and the holiday also fell on a Wednesday. The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as today to Sun., July 7.

Clay Ingram, AAA representative, said, when asked about day of departure, 54 percent of people intending to travel this holiday plan to begin their trip prior to the start of the work-week that includes July 4.

“Independence Day is typically the busiest holiday of the summer travel season with 6 million more Americans traveling than Memorial Day just two months ago,” Ingram said. “The Fourth of July benefits from the fact that all schools across the nation are out of session, making it truly a time for family fun.

“This year nearly 41 million Americans plan to celebrate the nation’s birthday with a getaway, a slight decline from last year,” said AAA Alabama spokesperson, Clay Ingram. “This projection is due to the calendar effect of one fewer day in the holiday period and economic growth that is not robust enough to offset the impact of the sequester and the effect of the end of the payroll tax cut on American families.”

Meeks said he agreed with AAA’s predictions.

“You can look at what came through this past weekend and the cars on the road the last couple of days and know that it will be a traffic-heavy holiday that lasts through the upcoming weekend,” he said. “We say the same thing each holiday season — we want motorists to arrive safely to their holiday destination, and our deputies will be doing their part to monitor the roadways to ensure that happens.”