Not since 2003 have Californians seen such high numbers of Independence Day travelers. This year, AAA projects that over 4.8 million Californians will make a mad dash out of town for the unusual mid-week holiday. This number of travelers represents a 5.2 increase over 2011, the second highest number of travelers in the past ten years.
During the upcoming Fourth of July celebration, 54 percent of those surveyed by AAA intended to begin vacationing on Friday, June 29. The longer than normal holiday period of six days will contribute to the higher volume of travelers.
"As summer begins, so does the appetite for travel," said AAA Northern California Spokesperson Cynthia Harris. "The determination to travel, while economizing, has been the common trend over the past several years. Lower gas prices are also spurring more people to travel."
More than 3.8 million Californians are expected to drive to holiday destinations, a 4 percent increase from 2011. Air travel will increase by 9.8 percent, with more than 570,000 travelers expected to take to the skies. More than 470,000 state residents plan to travel by other modes of transportation such as rail, bus and watercraft -- a 10 percent increase from last year.
Nationally, AAA forecasts that approximately 42 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday weekend, representing a 4.9 percent increase compared to 2011.
The primary leisure activities for West Coast residents celebrating the nation's birthday will be visiting family and friends, dining, going to waterfront areas and sightseeing. Approximately 33 percent of West Coast residents said they would be traveling with family members.
As in years past, AAA will offer the AAA Tipsy Tow program, a free tow home for drinking drivers from 6 p.m. on July 4 until 6 a.m. on July 5. The five-mile tow is available to all motorists including non-members. Drivers, potential passengers, party hosts, bartenders and restaurant managers can call 800-222-4357 (AAA-HELP) for a free tow home by telling the operator "I need a Tipsy Tow." No reservations are accepted.