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Travelers expected to congest roads this holiday weekend

AAA predicts some 47.9 million people will travel more than 50 miles away from home between Thursday and Monday — and a record-breaking 42 million of those people are expected to travel by car, despite gas prices remaining high.

The prediction suggests even with the national average price for a gallon of gas hovering over the $5 mark, about 88 percent of everyone traveling this weekend will go by car. About 7 percent of holiday travelers are expected to fly and 5 percent by other means, like buses, trains or cruise ships.

The preference for hitting the road likely is due to recent issues with air travel and ongoing concerns of cancellations, according to AAA.

Last year, 41.8 million people traveled by car, up from 41.5 million in 2019.

A total of 49 million people traveled in 2019. In 2021, 46.2 million people traveled for the Fourth of July holiday.

“The volume of travelers we expect to see over Independence Day is a definite sign that summer travel is kicking into high gear,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president, AAA Travel, said. “Earlier this year, we started seeing the demand for travel increase and it’s not tapering off. People are ready for a break and despite things costing more, they are finding ways to still take that much-needed vacation.”

With an abundance of road travel, AAA expects to respond to some 446,000 calls for roadside assistance this weekend.

AAA recommends getting a full vehicle inspection ahead of any long trip, and especially making sure a vehicle’s battery and engine are in good shape. It’s also never a bad idea to keep a well-stocked emergency kit in the car — just in case.

To beat the rush, travel during off-peak times or stay closer to home. AAA expects Thursday and Friday afternoons to have the most vehicle traffic. Based on AAA’s airline booking data, Friday likely will be the busiest day for air travel.

The top 10 U.S. travel destinations this holiday weekend will be Orlando, Fla.; Seattle; New York City; Anaheim, Calif.; Anchorage, Alaska; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Las Vegas; Honolulu, Hawaii; Denver and Chicago.

Top international travel destinations include Vancouver, Paris, London, Rome and Amsterdam, according to AAA.

Anyone hitting the road this weekend and leaving from the Mahoning Valley can expect to fill up the tank for less than the national and state average, but people still will feel a bit of pain at the pump.

The national average for a gallon of regular gas on Tuesday was $4.881, AAA reports. Ohio’s average was $4.846. In Mahoning County, the average cost was $4.814 and in Trumbull County, it was $4.789. Columbiana’s average cost was $4.832.

Sheetz, a Mid-Atlantic convenient chain with gas stations locally, announced Monday it will reduce the price of a gallon of gas for the holiday weekend to $3.99 for unleaded 88 — approved for model years 2001 or newer vehicles, light-duty trucks, SUVs and Flex Fuel vehicles — and $3.49 for E85, which contains more ethanol and is specifically for “flexible fuel vehicles,” according to Sheetz.

The highest ever average price for a gallon of regular gas in Ohio, $5.065, was recorded June 9, according to AAA.

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