This Fourth of July weekend traffic may be one of the busiest ever, with more than 40 million Americans expected to get behind the wheel.
Even as gasoline prices continue to soar, the American Automobile Association (AAA) said that some 43.6 million are traveling for the holiday. That represents a 40 percent increase compared with the previous July 4 weekend.
“Overall, just 2.5 percent fewer Americans are expected to travel this year compared to Independence Day in 2019,” AAA wrote in a report. But, it noted that it “represents an increase of nearly 40 percent compared to last year, when total travel fell to 34.2 million.”
More than 91 percent will travel via car despite the highest gas prices seen in seven years, the group noted. The national average, according to AAA, is $3.130 per gallon—or nearly a dollar more than prices were a year ago at this time. California, as usual, had the highest gas prices at $4.29 per gallon of regular gas.
“With 3.5 million people planning to fly, air travel volumes this Independence Day will reach 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels,” AAA said, “and increase 164 percent compared to last year.”
The top destinations include Orlando, Florida; Anaheim, California; Las Vegas; Denver; Seattle; Chicago; New York City; Atlanta; Boston; and Maui, the AAA analysis found.
According to a Reuters report, two of the largest fireworks displays in the country will fill the skies over New York City’s East River and the National Mall in Washington D.C. Some fireworks displays, including in several major cities and at South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore, were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fire risk, or other reasons.
Marching bands are slated to play in D.C.’s National Mall for a traditional parade along Barracks Row. Meanwhile, several classic July Fourth events such as Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Brooklyn’s Coney Island remained scaled back due to COVID-19.
Americans are expected to eat an estimated 150 million hot dogs on Independence Day, making it the single largest hot dog consumption day of the year, according to Foodmarket.
Lighting up the night’s sky this year also promises to restore a lifeline this year for the businesses that supply the 16,000 July Fourth fireworks displays that typically occur in cities and towns. Last year, only a “scant few” went on with the show, said Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association.
“Approximately 70 percent are scheduled to return, and many will be bigger and better than pre-pandemic levels,” Heckman said.
Reuters contributed to this report.