For Immediate ReleaseJune 27, 2013


CHARLOTTE (JUNE 27, 2013) – An estimated 988,500 North Carolinians will hit the road for the Independence Day holiday, down 2% from last year, as a result of a shorter holiday period and higher gas prices, according to AAA Carolinas.

July 4 is the deadliest day of the year, according to a recent AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety report, due to an abundance of celebrations – many involving alcohol – resulting in more drunk drivers on the road.

Last year, 45% of North Carolina’s traffic fatalities over the Independence Day holiday involved a drunk driver (10 of 22 total).

“Motorists should make plans in advance to find a safe way home by getting a designated driver or calling a cab,” said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol will hold its “Booze It & Lose It: Operation Firecracker” campaign targeting drunk drivers from June 28 through July 7.

Last year, July 4 fell on a Wednesday, which resulted in a six-day holiday travel period compared to five days this year. The extended holiday period last year resulted in a higher travel forecast in 2012.

“The decrease in travel this year is due more to the calendar than travel trends,” said Parsons. “Last year’s numbers were also fueled by falling gas prices, which we haven’t seen so far this summer.”

Although gas prices have remained mostly flat for the past two months, they are 8% higher than Independence Day 2012. The North Carolina state average for unleaded regular gas is currently $3.44. In 2012, gas prices fell significantly during May and June before bottoming out at $3.18 on July 4, 2012.

The highest price is in Charlotte at $3.49 and the cheapest is in High Point at $3.33.
North Carolina motorists will find less expensive gas in all surrounding states, including South Carolina – the cheapest in the country at $3.22 – Tennessee at $3.31, Virginia at $3.39 and Georgia at $3.40.
Although airfares are higher than last year, air travel is expected to increase about 1%, accounting for 52,300 travelers. Other modes of transportation (bus, rail, watercraft) are down 5% this year to 73,150.
North Carolina will suspend most construction projects along interstates, N.C. and U.S. routes from 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, until 9 a.m. Friday, July 5.  For updated information – including exceptions to this policy – visit www.ncdot.gov/travel or call 511 within the state.

The five-day Independence Day holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, July 3, through Sunday, July 7. Survey data is taken from AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, AAA/HIS Global Insight holiday travel forecast and AAA Carolinas data.

To estimate fuel costs, travelers can go to www.fuelcostcalculator.com to input starting city, destination, and the make and model of their car.

The free AAA Mobile app for iPhone and Android devices uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find updated gas prices, view nearby member discounts and access AAA Roadside Assistance.

AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 1.8 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

Connect with AAA Carolinas on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AAAcarolinas and follow us on Twitter at @AAAcarolinas.

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