AAA reps say 43 Million Americans are traveling, and 1 million of them are from the Washington, D.C., area. That’s about 5 million than Memorial Day and a 1.9 percent increase for DC-area residents over last July 4.
Nearly 9 out of 10 area residents (about 917,000 people) travel by car. Another 77,000 will fly to their destination.
“More Americans, Washingtonians included, are traveling this summer, and they are also driving more than ever before this summer, easily beating the mileage record set last summer, when Americans put 836.1 billion miles on their odometers,” John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs, said in a statement.
“The Washington metro area boasts a populace of 6,097,684 persons, and nearly a fifth of its residents will travel 50 miles or more from home during the long July Fourth holiday weekend. Historically, whenever July Fourth happens to fall on a Friday or a Monday, as it does this year, it essentially becomes a four-day holiday weekend for most travelers. The other big catalyst is the cheaper cost of gas.”
Townsend said drivers across the United States have saved about $20 billion on gasoline this year, compared to the same period in 2015, which has made travel more affordable than in recent years. A more confident consumer and rising economic activity also are offsetting a cooling labor market to help boost holiday travel.
This week, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.32, which is 46 cents less than one year ago. In Washington, D.C., Friday’s average was $2.53, which is 40 cents cheaper than one year ago and in the Washington metro area Friday’s average was $2.31, which is 46 cheaper than one year ago.
AAA expects most U.S. drivers will pay the lowest Independence Day gas prices since 2005. Historically, the Washington, D.C. average for unleaded gas on Independence Day was $2.94 in 2015, $3.93 in 2014, $3.70 in 2013, $3.48 in 2012 and $3.86 in 2011.
Read more about the busiest travel times going into the four-day weekend, as well as other travel tips, from The Washington Post’s Dr. Gridlock.