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Fourth of July travel, gas prices up from last year

AAA Travel estimates 41 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Independence Day holiday weekend.

That number is a 1.9 percent increase from the 40.3 million people who traveled last year and a nearly 14 percent increase compared to the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

The majority of travelers are expected to celebrate their freedom with a road trip, with more than eight in 10, or 34.8 million, choosing to travel by automobile, the highest number since 2007.

“With school out for summer, the Fourth of July holiday is typically the busiest summer travel holiday,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA — The Auto Club Group. “About five million more Americans travel for this holiday compared to Memorial or Labor Day weekends. Traditionally, the majority of those celebrating our nation’s independence take a road trip.”

The Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, July 2, to Sunday, July 6, and 992,621 Georgians are expected to take to the roadways during that time period. Total projected travelers, including those flying and using other modes of transportation, is 1,145,225.

AAA expects the majority of U.S. drivers likely will pay the highest gas prices for Independence Day since 2008. In recent years gas prices have declined in the weeks leading up to Independence Day, but this has not occurred this summer due to high crude oil costs resulting from violence in Iraq. Current gas prices in Georgia average out at $3.61 compared to $3.34 last Fourth of July.

“Current gas prices are still cheaper than this year’s peak price and unlikely to deter people from traveling,” Jenkins said. “Many travel plans have already been made, and budgets set aside. In some cases, consumers will reallocate their budgets and cut back on dining, shopping or other trip activities.”