AAA projects 42.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday weekend, a 4.9 percent increase over the 40.3 million people who traveled last year.
The number of Oklahomans expected to travel is up 4.7 percent over July 4th last year, to 543,500, AAA reports. (See below for a breakdown of these numbers by mode of transportation.)
The expected national 2012 Independence Day holiday travel volume will tie the past decade’s previous high mark set in 2007 and represents a near 42 percent increase from 2009. The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Tuesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 8.
Since July 4 falls on a Wednesday, the calendar will play a role in driving holiday travel volume as the mid-week holiday provides the option of including a weekend and two week days on either side of the actual holiday.
When asked about day of departure, 54 percent of people intending to travel this holiday said they plan to begin their trip prior to the start of the work-week that includes July 4.
Response percentages by trip departure day are:
· 25 percent -- Friday, June 29
· 16 percent -- Saturday, June 30
· 13 percent -- Sunday, July 1
· 11 percent -- Monday, July 2
· 19 percent -- Tuesday, July 3
· 16 percent -- Wednesday, July 4
“AAA’s projection for a decade high number of Independence Day travelers is being fed by Americans’ appetite for travel, a mid-week holiday and lower gas prices,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma.
“This is the second holiday this year when travelers have indicated a determination to travel while economizing on other aspects of their trip.”
Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans
The price of gasoline is major factor in spurring intentions to travel this Independence Day holiday period. On April 6, motorists in Oklahoma experienced a year-to-date peak average price of $3.74 per gallon for regular self-serve gasoline.
The national average also hit a 2012 peak of $3.94 that same day. The current Oklahoma average price for regular gasoline is $3.40 per gallon, 12 cents below the price recorded on June 19, 2011, while today’s national average price, $3.50 per gallon, is 15 cents less than at this same time last year.
Automobile travel up 4 percent, highest auto travel volume in past decade
Approximately 35.5 million people plan to travel by automobile across the country, setting the high-water mark for the decade. Eighty-four percent of all Independence Day holiday travelers will be getting there by car, pickup or RV.
This is a 4 percent increase over the 34.1 million people who traveled on the highway last year.
AAA predicts 468,000 Oklahomans will be getting to holiday destinations by motor vehicle this year, which represents 86 percent of all travelers and 3.8 percent more than last July 4th.
Number of air travelers expected to increase by 9 percent, airfares unchanged
Slightly more than 3.2 million leisure travelers (8 percent of all holiday travelers) will fly sometime over the Independence Day holiday period, a 9 percent increase over the 2.9 million who flew in 2011.
This year’s increase is the third consecutive year of rising July 4th air travel volume, following the decade low 1.4 million air travelers in 2009.
Air travel by Oklahomans is also expected to increase this Independence Day holiday to 9,700 fliers compared with last year’s 8,000, a 9.7 percent increase.