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‘Historic’ traffic numbers expected this holiday weekend

By Staff | Jun 29, 2017

AAA projects a record setting 4th of July holiday when 44.2 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home to celebrate with family or visit a travel destination.

The all-time record for travel is 2.9 percent more than last year’s figure. The travel forecast by the nationwide auto club indicates 2.3 million Floridians, 4.8 percent more than last year, will take to the roadways, skies, railways and waterways to celebrate Independence Day.

“This Independence Day will be historic,” said Vicky Evans, Assistant VP of Travel Sales & Development at AAA. “Traveler numbers are up and prices are down, adding to what already has been a bustling summer travel season.”

Most of those who travel this holiday will get there by car, 37.5 million or 85 percent, while 8 percent will fly.

The Independence Day travel period this year runs from Friday through Tuesday, July 4.

July 4 represents the most heavily traveled holiday period of the three summer holidays, attracting nearly 13 percent more total travelers than Memorial Day and Labor Day.

“More people travel for Independence Day because it falls in the middle of summer when school is out,” said Evans. “Families easily can plan extended vacations for this holiday without worrying about school calendars.”

Gas prices are running below figures for the last five years and could hit a 13-year low. The national average price for gasoline is $2.24 per gallon this week while Florida’s average is $2.18. Gas prices have been trending lower over the past two weeks and is a contributing factor in driving the increase in travelers.

“Travel bookings at the Auto Club Group are up more than 15 percent in Florida compared to this time last year,” said Evans. “The biggest factors driving growth are low gas prices, strong employment, rising incomes and higher consumer confidence, but overall Americans just love to travel and want to do something fun for this mid-summer tradition.”

Locally, law enforcement will be looking for impaired drivers through the holiday period.

“We have a zero tolerance approach,” said Cape Coral Police Lt. Dana Coston. “A first offense DUI costs over $13,000 between bail, fines, fees, attorney costs and lost work.”

Coston advises motorists to plan ahead with more people on the roadways. Also be aware that Cape Coral Parkway west of Del Prado Boulevard and the Cape Coral Bridge will be closed for Tuesday’s Red White & Boom celebration.

“Give yourself extra time and expect delays because traffic will be heavy on July 4,” said Coston.

Coston stressed that patrol officers will be focused on speeding, aggressive driving and other traffic related issues on our roadways.

“It’s summer time in Cape Coral, too,” Coston said. “That means there likely will be afternoon and evening thunderstorms which adversely impacts traffic. When driving in the rain, slow down, use low beam headlights and wipers, increase your following distance and give yourself extra time to get to where you are going.”

He also advises that anyone celebrating Independence Day with alcohol use a taxi service, designated driver or a ride-sharing app for transportation.