Independence Day Driving Forecast: Crowded and Risky

Independence Day Driving Forecast: Crowded and Risky

More than one-fifth of all U.S. drivers are expected to hit the road for Fourth of July this year, according to new statistics released by AAA. This means a record-breaking number of people will drive over the upcoming Independence Day holiday, which is ranked as one of the most dangerous days to drive of the year. That’s why it’s vital now, more than ever, to understand how this happens, how you play a role, and how to get to your destination stress-free. 

“No matter if you're on a road trip or headed to the airport to enjoy time off this summer, remember that your life depends on driving defensively,” said Laura Adams, DriversEd.com’s Safety and Education Analyst. “Make sure your vehicle is in good shape and observe speed limits, especially if you encounter storms. If you bring pets, secure them properly in case of a sudden stop. And always avoid the most dangerous behaviors, which include driving while drinking, being drowsy, and talking or texting on your phone.”

‘How Does Summer Holiday Travel Get to Be So Bad?’ 

With more than 41 million drivers hitting the road for Independence Day, there will inevitably be situations where there are too many cars on too “small” of a roadway at one time. That, itself, is enough to cause travel delays. But what drivers do when this happens is what makes a world of difference.

While drivers are always instructed to leave a reasonable distance between their car and the car in front of them, over time, drivers speed up and slow down by accident. These small adjustments end up instigating a “ripple effect” of braking and accelerating, creating stop-and-go traffic. The “ripple” of congestion doesn’t go away until it reaches a space, somewhere down the line of drivers, where there is an appropriate ratio of cars to road. During holiday travel, this may take a very long time. And, this is actually why the bulk of traffic occurs

‘How Will this Affect My Trip?’

The time it will take you to get all your Independence Day driving done will significantly increase. In major metros, AAA states, drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute. Nationwide, delays are expected to increase by approximately 9%. Drivers should also be on alert for heavy traffic on Friday, June 28, and Sunday, July 7.

Region

Worst Day for Travel      

Worst Time for Travel

Atlanta

Friday, July 5

5:00 – 7:00 PM

Boston

Friday, July 5

10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Chicago

Friday, July 5

1:00 – 3:00 PM

Detroit

Wednesday, July 3

2:00 – 4:00 PM

Houston

Thursday, July 4

1:00 – 3:00 PM

Los Angeles

Wednesday, July 3

11:30 AM – 1:30 PM

New York

Wednesday, July 3

1:45 – 3:45 PM

San Francisco

Wednesday, July 3

1:30 – 2:30 PM

Seattle

Thursday, July 4

12:00 – 2:00 PM

Washington, DC

Sunday, July 7

10:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Source: AAA

Stopping and starting in traffic jams also burns fuel at a higher rate, so expect to pay more for gas during your trip, too.

‘What Can I Do to Protect Myself and My Family?’

First, use a navigation app with real-time traffic updates, like Waze. Waze and similar apps can give you an idea of the time it’ll take to get through a traffic jam while providing minute-by-minute delay updates to help ease your nerves. 

Second, remember that traffic congestion is also the breeding ground of road rage. Heightened stress levels play out in harmful ways sometimes, so it’s imperative for you to practice defensive driving and stay calm behind the wheel—take deep breaths to get over an irritating situation and always be the bigger person. That’s how you can guarantee you, and your family’s, safe arrival. 

Third, just say no to road rage, which is a category all the following fall into: 

  • Tailgating the car in front of you
  • Weaving through traffic lanes
  • Ignoring lane boundaries to cut ahead
  • Over-using your car horn to usher drivers out of the way

Display your confidence in yourself and your driving abilities by staying calm and obeying the rules of the road this Fourth of July. Confidence is not aggression. And safe driving will only build your confidence!

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