Record number of drivers set to hit the road

Published 11:34pm Saturday, June 30, 2012

Travel experts expect 42.3 million people to travel a distance of more than 50 miles across the United States this Fourth of July holiday, and AAA spokesman Clay Ingram said he expected Alabama highways to be some of the most used roadways by travelers.

“There will be a lot of people from across the country traveling through Alabama on their way to the Gulf Coast beaches or the Orlando area for Universal and Disney, so highways in and around Alabama are probably going to be a lot busier than they will be in other parts of the country,” Ingram said. “There’s going to be a lot of congestion out there, a lot of slow-moving traffic, and it’s just going to take a little longer to get where you want to go than it usually does.”

Ingram said the more than 42 million Fourth of July travelers reflect a 4.9 percent increase in expected holiday traffic compared to last year’s numbers.

“A 4.9 percent is a tremendous jump,” Ingram said. “Usually it’s just 1 percent, maybe 1.5 percent, so it’s just a really big jump.”

He attributed the increase to the fact that most Americans now think of vacations as necessities rather than luxuries, which means they’re willing to make sacrifices in other areas to be able to take a vacation of some sort.

The fact that the holiday is on a Wednesday also means an increase in travelers, Ingram said, noting that mid-week holidays sort of stretch the week out. Some people will travel a few days before the holiday, he said, while some will take Thursday and Friday off from work and take a long weekend. Some, he added, will even take the whole week off.

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