Americans expected to celebrate pandemic freedom with July 4th road trips

Brakelights come on as vehicles head east out of Los Angeles on the Interstate 10 freeway in Alhambra, California on May 27, 2021, ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
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Ed Blazina Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

PITTSBURGH — Americans are expected to celebrate their COVID independence over the July 4 holiday weekend.

Despite the highest gasoline prices in seven years, AAA is estimating more than 47.7 million people will travel at least 50 miles for the holiday weekend, about 91% of them driving. That would be the second highest number of people over the July 4 holiday ever, trailing only 2019.

That’s also about 40% more than the 34.2 million who traveled last year.

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“There was a major uptick in travel for Memorial Day and it appears Independence Day will continue the trend,” Bevi Powell, senior vice president for AAA East Central, said in a news release. “Americans are ready to catch up on those missed opportunities with their friends and families from last year, especially to sunny destinations likes beaches and lakes.”

Gasoline prices remained steady in Western Pennsylvania this week at $3.25 a gallon, but that’s not really good news since that’s up about 77 cents from a year ago.

Traffic data analytics company INRIX and AAA predict the busiest times to travel will be 3-5 p.m. Thursday, 4 to 5 p.m. Friday, 11 to 1 p.m. Saturday and, for those lucky enough to be off, 4 to 5 p.m. Monday. The best travel times are expected to be after 7 p.m. Thursday, before noon Friday, after 2 p.m. Saturday and before 1 p.m. Monday.

The holiday itself on Sunday isn’t expected to be a busy travel day.

And what’s a holiday without the facts and figure from WalletHub on how much we will eat and what it will cost?

The financial advisory website estimates Americans will spend $7.5 billion on holiday food and $1 billion on beer, the busiest beer day of the year. Overall, we’ll eat about 150 million hotdogs and about 700 million pounds of chicken.

And motorists should be extra careful. July 4 is among the most dangerous of the 100 deadliest days, the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day that sees hundreds of fatal traffic accidents.

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