A record 42 million people around the United States are expected to hit the road for trips over the July 4 Independence Day weekend, AAA said Tuesday, absorbing historically high fuel costs to crowd the highways.
The average U.S. retail price of gasoline recently broke through $5 per gallon for the first time in history. While that is not a record from an inflation-adjusted basis, it still represents an increase of nearly $2 per gallon from a year earlier. Despite the higher cost, gasoline demand is only 1 percent below the average for this time of year in the United States.
The 42 million figure, should it pan out, would surpass 2019’s peak, when 41.5 million people traveled by vehicle on Independence Day, according to the American Automobile Association.
Including air travel, 47.9 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home during the holiday period, just 2 percent less than 2019’s 49 million, but surpassing 2021’s levels, the travel membership organization said.
“The volume of travelers we expect to see over Independence Day is a definite sign that summer travel is kicking into high gear,” said Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel. “Earlier this year, we started seeing the demand for travel increase and it’s not tapering off.”
Through April, cumulative vehicle miles traveled for 2022 totals 1.017 trillion vehicle miles, a rate that trails only 2019 and 2018 in terms of pace, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.