July 4 traffic could be the worst ever thanks to low gas prices

AAA estimates a record number of people will drive somewhere for Fourth of July weekend.
AAA estimates a record number of people will drive somewhere for Fourth of July weekend. –Wendy Maeda / The Boston Globe

A record number of Americans are expected to travel during Fourth of July weekend, according to AAA.

The automotive safety agency anticipates 43 million Americans plan to travel between June 30 and July 4. This represents a 1.3 percent increase from the same weekend in 2015.

AAA also reports that auto travel will grow for the sixth time in the past seven years, with an anticipated 36.3 million motorists, about 84 percent of all travelers, expected to hit the road to reach their destinations, a 1.2 percent increase from last year.

Low gas prices are one of the key reasons so many drivers are expected to hit the road for the holiday weekend. Despite recent seasonal price increases, AAA says most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Independence Day gas prices in over a decade.

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“Spurred by the lowest gas prices since 2005, more people than ever are planning to travel this Independence Day weekend,’’ said AAA president and CEO Marshall Doney in a statement.

Currently, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $2.31, which is 47 cents less than the price of gas a year ago.

Lower gas prices have already saved motorists huge sums of money at the pump, according to AAA. The association estimates U.S. motorists have saved about $20 billion on gas so far this year compared to the same period in 2015.

“We are well on our way for 2016 to be a record-breaking year for summertime travel,’’ said Doney.

But AAA also warned motorists to expect the unexpected during their travels. The association estimates it will need to come to the assistance of about 370,000 motorists during the heavy travel period for a variety of automotive problems including dead batteries, flat tires or accidentally locked vehicles.

AAA recommends motorists take precautions and check the health of their car batteries and tire pressure before hitting the road.

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