Year's 'largest road trip event' projected for this weekend

Traffic flows along Route 30 near Greensburg yesterday. Analysts say the Fourth of July weekend will see the heaviest traffic of the year.

By Mark Pesto

CNHI News Service

The Independence Day weekend is expected to be 2020’s biggest travel weekend so far, but the number of people traveling is likely to remain below past years’ levels as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, travel experts predict.

“The pent-up demand for travel we’re seeing, coupled with low gas prices, limited flight service and the fact that July Fourth falls on a Saturday, all indicate that the Iholiday will be the largest road trip event of 2020 so far,” said Cree Lawson, CEO of the travel data company Arrivalist.

Arrivalist predicted that about 36.8 million road trips will be taken in the United States over the Independence Day weekend, down about 11% from the 41.1 million travelers predicted by AAA last year. That forecast, issued on June 24, assumed no new spike in COVID-19 cases and no return of lockdown measures in cities and states around the country, the company cautioned.

AAA did not publish a travel forecast for the Independence Day weekend, citing uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

AAA did predict on June 25 that about 700 million trips will be taken throughout this summer. That figure is almost 15% below last year’s level and would be the first decline in summer travel levels since 2009.

Automobile travel is projected to dip just 3% below last year’s level, according to AAA, but air travel is expected to drop 74%, and other forms of travel – including trips by train, cruise ship and bus – are expected to go down by 86%.

“Americans will get out and explore this summer,” said Paula Twidale, AAA’s senior vice president of travel, “though they’re taking a ‘wait and see’ approach when it comes to booking and are likely to book more long weekend getaways than extended vacations.”

State transportation officials on Tuesday urged those who will be driving this weekend to do so responsibly.

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