July 4 travel forecast: Experts give best, worst times to hit road during 'busiest ever' holiday rush

Independence Day week will have record traffic and delays owing to tremendous travel. AAA predicts 71 million Fourth of July visitors between June 29 and July 7, rising 5% from 2018 and 8% from 2019.  

AAA Travel's Paula Twidale remarked "With summer vacations in full swing and remote work, more Americans are taking extended trips around Independence Day".   

"We anticipate this July 4th week will be the busiest ever with an additional 5.7 million people traveling compared to 2019." Motor club expects 70.9 million will travel 50 km or more, up 2.8 million from 2023.  

INRIX traffic analysts say Wednesday and Sunday 2–7 p.m. is the worst time to drive. INRIX advises leaving home before noon on July 3 and 4 and 10 a.m. on July 6 and 7.  

"Drivers in large metro areas can expect the worst traffic delays on Wednesday, July 3rd, as they leave town, and Sunday, July 7th, as they return," said Bob Pishue of INRIX.  

Holiday weekend delays could reach 67%, thus Pishue advised morning drives. They recommend traveling after dark if you can't leave early. The Omega Law told Newsweek Independence Day was second only to New Year's Day in driving danger.   

"Holidays also often coincide with breaks from school or work, resulting in more teens or young adults with less driving experience and accidents," said a California injury law firm.  

The NHTSA's 2017–2021 traffic fatality study found South Dakota to be the most dangerous state to travel on July 4. On other days, statewide fatal collisions jumped 244%. Washington, D.C. fatal collisions jumped 182%, the company reported.  

This holiday week, Dallas, Denver, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco are the top rental car cities. Friday, Saturday, and July 3 were collection peak.  

The Independent reports that the TSA expects 32 million passengers via American airports between June 29 and July 8, up 5.4 million from last year. Three million people will use the nation's 434 airports on July 7.  

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