AAA projects nearly 3.2 million people in the West North Central region, which includes Kansas, will travel at least 50 miles from home for the Independence Day holiday, a .7 percent increase from 2013 and the highest travel volume for the holiday since 2010. Growth in consumer spending is fueling the anticipated increase. However, the additional spending is primarily due to more credit card use, rather than rising incomes. The highest Kansas gas prices in six years are not putting a damper on holiday travel.
“With school out, Independence Day is typically the busiest summer travel holiday,” said Jim Hanni, Executive Vice President, Public Affairs, AAA Allied Group. For Independence Day holiday travel, Hanni reports Branson, Table Rock Lake, Kansas City, Oklahoma City and Dallas are popular travel destinations with Wichita AAA members. For AAA members visiting offices in Topeka, Lawrence and Manhattan, popular holiday travel destinations include Branson, Canada, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Dallas and Disneyworld.
Popular summer travel destinations, by automobile, among AAA members visiting the Topeka, Lawrence and Manhattan AAA offices include Lake of the Ozarks, Branson, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore and the Grand Canyon. Travel-by-air destinations include Europe, Mexico, Caribbean, Hawaii and Disney. Popular destinations for Wichita AAA members, as reported by the AAA offices in Wichita, include Branson, Colorado, Yellowstone, the Florida Gulf Coast and San Antonio. Travel-by-air destinations popular in the Wichita offices include Alaska, Disneyworld, cruises, Las Vegas, Bahamas and Cancun.
Highlights from AAA’s 2014 Independence Day Travel Forecast:
- Freedom of the Open Road. More are traveling by automobile. Over 2.75 million travelers in the West North Central region (over 86 percent of travelers) plan to drive to their destination—a 1.1 percent increase from last year.
- Air Travel down slightly. Some 131,000 travelers in the West North Central region are expected to fly for the Fourth— down .5 percent from 2013.
Highest gas prices in six years 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008
Kansas average $3.55 $3.49 $3.45 $3.47 $2.68 $2.55 $3.91
Vehicle Maintenance Takes No Vacation
Proper auto maintenance is key to avoiding a breakdown this summer. During the Fourth of July travel period in 2013, AAA Allied Group’s Roadside Rescue Team responded to nearly 1,000 emergency road service calls in Kansas, including nearly 400 calls for tows and 172 calls for battery problems. AAA urges motorists to check their vehicle batteries, fluid levels, tires, belts and hoses before hitting the road. Last year the Roadside Rescue Team was also busy on the Monday after the holiday weekend, responding to over 250 calls for help.
Drinking, Drugs and Driving Don’t Mix for the Fourth
An average of 35 alcohol-related crashes occur over Fourth of July holidays in Kansas. In over half of these crashes, someone is injured. “Increased holiday traffic combined with alcohol consumption makes the Fourth one of the most dangerous times on the road every year,” Hanni said.
AAA offers the following tips for Fourth of July road safety:
•Avoid distractions. This includes the use of handheld, hands-free and voice-activated devices. A recent AAA study found that while handheld and hands-free devices pose a mental distraction, voice-activated features pose an even higher risk. Designate a passenger to respond to calls, texts and navigate if you have one. Otherwise, focus on driving.
•Be patient. Holiday travel means busy streets and highways. AAA is forecasting July 2 and July 6 will be the busiest travel days. Avoid peak commute times such as late afternoon and early evening if possible.
•Pledge to drive drug and alcohol free. Impairment plays a major role in holiday crashes. AAA urges drivers to pledge to drive safe and sober. Designate a driver who agrees to remain alcohol-free.
The National Picture
AAA projects 41 million Americans will travel for Independence Day, a 1.9 percent increase from 2013. Nationally, auto travel is expected to rise 2.2 percent, while air travel is expected to increase 1 percent.