The number of Americans traveling by car this July 4th holiday weekend is expected to set a new record. An estimated 43.2 million people will drive to their destinations, an increase of 2.4% over 2022 and 4% higher than 2019, according to the AAA.
The Independence Day holiday is typically one of the deadliest times of the year to drive, and with the expected increase in car travel, road safety experts are worried.
“Summertime, and especially long holiday weekends, are a popular time to travel, celebrate and enjoy life,” Mark Chung, executive vice president of roadway practice at the National Safety Council, a nonprofit advocacy group, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the uptick in motor vehicle crashes puts a damper on this joy each year.”
According to a recent analysis by the safety council, nearly 620 people may lose their lives in preventable motor vehicle crashes this Independence Day weekend, observed this year between 6 pm on Friday, June 30 and 11:59 pm on Tuesday, July 4.
If those numbers are accurate, “it’s nothing less than a tragedy because these deaths are preventable,” Chung added. “There are ways to end this national crisis.”
People can be safer on the road by buckling up, slowing down, wearing a seat belt, and by driving free from distraction and impairment, the safety council says. Data, it noted, shows that 39% of fatalities during the Independence Day holiday period involve an alcohol-impaired driver, “one of the highest percentages among all the major holidays.”
The AAA offers tips to drivers about the best and worst times to travel by car and peak congestion information for specific metro areas.
Friday, June 30 is expected to be the busiest day on the roads during the Independence Day holiday weekend, according to INRIX, a provider of transportation data and insights, with average travel times up nearly 30% over normal. The worst traffic is projected to be in major metro areas, including Boston, Seattle, and Washington, DC., and overall, the best time to leave is in the morning or after 6 pm to avoid the heaviest holiday congestion.
“With record-breaking travelers expected on the road this holiday weekend, drivers should prepare for above-average delays to their favorite destinations,” Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX, said in a statement. “Using traffic apps, local DOT notifications, and 511 services are key to minimizing holiday travel traffic frustrations this Independence Day.”
To find out more about the AAA’s analysis, click here. For more safety tips from the National Safety Council, and to learn about what can be done by all to address roadway safety in the US, click here.