AP NEWS

Record high number of holiday travelers predicted

June 30, 2016 GMT

This Independence Day weekend, it is projected about 43 million Americans will be traveling, a record high.AAA predicts 84 percent of holiday travelers, or more than 36 million, will drive to their Independance Day destination, a 1.2 percent increase from last year.Because of this heavy increase in travel, especially on highways, state police will conduct increased enforcement throughout the holiday weekend, which begins today and continues through Monday. Speeding, driving under the influence and texting while driving will be among the violations officers will be on the lookout for to ensure road safety.“Distractions are a big reason why we handle a lot of crashes, especially on a holiday weekend when there’s a lot more traveling going on,” said Trooper Stefani Lucas, state police spokeswoman. “We’re reminding people that as far as cellphones and texting goes, it’s against the law, and drivers need to make sure they are paying attention because there will be more vehicles on the road.“Although road construction will be halted during the holiday weekend, Lucas said motorists should still be cautious while driving through the multiple construction zones on Interstate 70 in both directions from Washington to the Monongahela River and make sure slow down to 45 miles per hour in those areas.State police are recommending safe holiday driving tips, such as designating a sober driver, carrying a cellphone and charger in case of emergency, avoiding distractions such as talking on cellphones and texting, and taking frequent breaks or rotating drivers on long trips.“More people than ever are planning to travel this Fourth of July weekend,” Jim Lehman, president of AAA East Central, said in a news release. “Car travel proves to be the most popular mode of transportation as Americans take advantage of low gas prices.“According to AAA, U.S. drivers saved about $20 billion on gasoline so far this year compared to the same period in 2015, and it is expected holiday travelers will pay the lowest Independence Day gas prices since 2005, with the national average for a gallon of gasoline at $2.31. The newfound gas affordability would explain the increase in holiday traveling.In the mid-Atlantic region - New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania - holiday travelers will total 11.74 million this year and AAA is also urging drivers to use extra caution.