John Townsend
Public Relations Manager, DC
O: (202) 481-6820 (ext. 4462108)
C: (202) 253-2171
jtownsend@aaamidatlantic.com

 

WASHINGTON, D. C. (Wednesday, June 26, 2019) –– For the longest time in the nation’s history, Washington, D.C. was the only place in the country where the Fourth of July was designated a federal holiday. From the start, holiday travel was ingrained into the local celebrations. This year, a record-breaking number of people living in and around Washington, D.C., and its environs, 1,217,012 locals in all, will decamp elsewhere for the nation’s 243rd birthday. Like red, white and blue fireworks, this tops the previous local record for Fourth of July travel, which was set at this time a year ago. That’s when 1,170,271 National Capital Area residents ventured 50 miles or more from here during the midsummer national holiday. This time, it betokens an overall four percent increase over last year’s holiday travel volume locally, and more importantly, it is the highest July 4th travel volume for the Washington metro area since AAA began tracking such data.

 

The 1.2 million folks from around here, who are heading out of town to idyllic settings and familiar retreats for the holiday, will be caught up in that multitudinous “great migration” of 48.9 million people in these United States venturing more than 50 miles from home during the perennially busy Fourth of July holiday travel period. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority, or 87 percent, of holiday travelers hailing from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region, 1,058,921 residents, will travel by automobile and, in the process, shatter all previous 4th of July traffic count records for the travel mode. That compares to the 1,026, 635 denizens who hit the highways for their Federal holiday getaways and get-togethers a year ago.

 

“Overall, the 4.2 percent uptick in automobile travel this holiday season  spells protracted travel delays and elongated traffic jams on area freeways during both the 4th of July getaway and during the return trip back home. Free-flow traffic will be a nonentity,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “It is axiomatic: record-level drivers equals record-level delays on area freeways.  Holiday travelers departing the area, alongside those residents staying put for the holiday will intercross, along with through-put travelers up and down area interstates during the same periods.”

 

2019 AAA Mid-Atlantic July Fourth Travel Projections

 

Total Travel

& Percentage

Automobile Travel & Percentage

Air Travel & Percentage

Other Modes Of

Travel & Percentage

Washington Metro Area

1,217,000 residents

Up 4 percent from 1,170,200 in 2018

1,059,000 residents

(87 percent)

Up 4.2 percent from 1,026,534 in 2018

93, 555 residents

(7.6 percent)

Up 5.4 percent from 88,799 in 2018

64,353 residents

(5.3 percent)

Down 0.5 percent from 64,837 in 2018

National

48.9 million folks

Up 4.1 percent from 46.9 million in 2018

41.4 million people

(84.6 percent)

Up 4.3 percent from 39.7 million in 2018

3.96 million people

(8.1 percent)

Up 5.7 percent from 3.75 million in 2018

3.53 million people

(7.5 percent)

Up 0.6 percent from 3.51 million in 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 “The Fourth of July was re-designated as a federal holiday in 1938, making it the first time every federal worker was paid time-off for the holiday. This year, the Fourth falls on Thursday, ushering in a long holiday weekend, and record-breaking travel from the ‘seat of government,’ a ‘metonymy for Washington, D.C.’ and its environs. Think that’s something? This 4th of July, a grand total of 3,597,949 persons living in Virginia, Maryland and Metropolitan Washington are traveling 50 miles or more from home,” said Townsend. “While you let that number sink in, you ought to brace yourself for the onslaught of 3,130,661 road-trippers from National Capital Area and the whole of Maryland and Virginia hitting the highways and making side trips for the holiday.  With that many holiday travelers departing the area by automobile, our freeways, including I-66, I-270, U.S. 50, and I-95, the main interstate highway on the East Coast, will resemble the roads to Hadestownon Wednesday afternoon, July 3. Things will be even worse on the Sunday after the holiday.”

 

 Surprisingly, the worst time to be on area freeways will occur during the return trek to the Washington metro area. Homeward bound travelers from the long holiday weekend will encounter travel delays swelling to 2.4 times a normal trip along local roadways “on any given Sunday.” The worst of the worst of traffic delays for round-trippers will manifest itself on Sunday, July 7, in the narrow two-hour window from 10:30 A.M. to 12:30 P.M., predicts INRIX in collaboration with AAA. If you find yourself anywhere near area freeways, your ordeal will be akin to threading the eye of a traffic count needle with Sunday drivers, who will also be out and about during those hours. It will be slow going as drivers encounter the heaviest highway traffic volume across the region during the entire Federal holiday travel period.

 

Even so, 93,555 Washington area holiday gallivanters (7.6 percent) will jet to their July 4th destinations, compared to 88,799 local holiday jet-set travelers a year earlier. Although it represents a 5.4 percent increase in air travel year-over-year, the all-time local record in this travel category for the Fourth was actually set in 2001, when 95,583 area residents flew to their far-flung holiday destinations. Because it is the second highest number on record of area residents booking flights for the Fourth, just make sure you arrive at the three major area airports two hours before your flight. While you are at it, brace yourself for long lines and waits at security checkpoints.

 

Yearning to catch up with family and friends across the years and miles, another 65,535 sojourners and leisure travelers from the National Capital Region will traverse to their Fourth of July excursions, expeditions and explorations via other modes of transportation.  This cohort comprises 5.3 percent of all holiday gadabouts hailing from the region this year.  Oddly enough, this represents a slight 0.5 percent decrease in the travel mode versus last year. At that time 64,837 holiday wayfarers from the Washington area undertook wide-ranging trips by trains, buses and cruise ships.

 

It is not the only Fourth of July travel record that will be shattered this year. It is happening from “sea to shining sea.”  This year, a record 48.9 million Americans are forecast to travel 50 miles or more away from home for the Fourth. It is a 4.1% increase over last year. This is the highest Independence Day travel volume since AAA started tracking holiday travel in 2000.

 

By the Numbers And By The Modes: 2019 National Fourth of July Holiday Travel Forecast

  • Automobiles: The vast majority of travelers – 41.4 million – will hit the road this Independence Day, the most on record for the holiday and 4.3% more than last year.

  • Planes: A record-breaking 3.96 million people will travel by air, the highest number on record, and 5.3 percent more than last year.

  • Trains, Buses and Cruise Ships: Travel across these sectors will increase by 0.6 percent to a total of 3.53 million passengers.

 

Record-level drivers equals record-level delays

For the 41.4 million Americans traveling by automobile this Independence Day, INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion on Wednesday, July 3 as commuters mix with holiday travelers. In major metros, drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute. Nationwide, delays are expected to increase by approximately 9%.

 

“With record-level travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays around our major metros,” said Trevor Reed, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Although travel times are expected to nominally increase throughout the week, hands down, Wednesday afternoon will be the worst time to be on the road.”

 

Region

Worst Day for Travel

Worst Time for Travel

Delay Multiplier

Atlanta

Friday, July 5

5:00 - 7:00 PM

2.5x

Boston

Friday, July 5

10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

3.4x

Chicago

Friday, July 5

1:00 - 3:00 PM

2x

Detroit

Wednesday, July 3

2:00 - 4:00 PM

2x

Houston

Thursday, July 4

1:00 - 3:00 PM

3x

Los Angeles

Wednesday, July 3

11:30 AM - 1:30 PM

2.7x

New York

Wednesday, July 3

1:45 - 3:45 PM

3.8x

San Francisco

Wednesday, July 3

1:30 - 2:30 PM

2.5x

Seattle

Thursday, July 4

12:00 - 2:00 PM

3x

Washington, DC

Sunday, July 7

10:30 AM - 12:30 PM

2.4x

 

Lower gas prices motivating millions of road trippers

A week ahead of the busy 4th of July travel period, Wednesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 7, motorists are paying a national average of $2.67, and a regional average of $2.62 per gallon in the Washington metro area. As of June 25, pump prices were 18 to 19 cents cheaper on average than they were a year ago.  

 

It remains to be seen whether motorists will face a more expensive road trip this 4th of July as a result of the refinery fire in Philadelphia, the largest refinery on the east coast, or due to rising tensions in the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and the United States. As for now, the lower-than-a-year-ago cost of a gallon of gasoline is motivating record numbers of travelers to take road trips for the holiday weekend.

 

Travelers paying more for July 4 car rentals and airfares

Some of the savings travelers are enjoying from lower gas prices will go toward other travel costs this holiday, which are trending higher. According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares on average are 10% more expensive compared with last Independence Day, while average car rental rates are 5% higher than last year, at $69 daily. Meanwhile, midrange accommodations are expected to cost travelers between $153 for AAA Two Diamond and $189 for AAA Three Diamond Rated hotels.

 

Methodology:

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Markit, a London-based business information provider. The complete AAA/IHS Markit 2019 Independence Day holiday travel forecast is available here.

 

About AAA:

AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

 

About INRIX:
INRIX is the global leader in connected car services and transportation analytics. Leveraging big data and the cloud, INRIX delivers comprehensive services and solutions to help move people, cities and businesses forward. Our partners are automakers, governments, mobile operators, developers, advertisers, as well as enterprises large and small.

 

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Washington, D.C. Mailing Address:
1405 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20005

AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 58 million members nationwide and nearly 79,000 members in the District of Columbia.  AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years.  The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit  http://aaa.com

TEDx Wilmington Salon

Who's in the Driver's Seat? The Transformation of Transportation

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, AAA and TEDx Wilmington held the first TEDx Salon dedicated to ideas worth spreading in transportation.

This event had:

  • 12 live talks given by 13 speakers
  • 368 people in attendance at the live event
  • More than 7,500 viewed the event online through Livestream, viewing events, and on the AAA Associate network
  • Online viewers came from all 50 states and approximately 30 countries around the world

View a slideshow from the event

This TEDx WilmingtonSalon was organized in partnership with AAA

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