Virginians on the roadways: Terrible Tuesday kicks off Independence Day travel

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – More Virginians will be traveling over the Fourth of July holiday this year than any year on record.

“It’s consumer confidence,’ Katharine Beachboard, Community Educator Public Affairs for the AAA, said. “The economy is doing great, it’s building back up so they have more disposable income and they’re using that to go see friends and family.”

According to AAA, more than 1.2 million people in the Commonwealth will be enjoying the Fourth of July away from home, with 1.1 million of them traveling by automobile. For those planning a road trip, INRIX, a global transportation analytics company, predicts travel times in the most congested cities in the U.S. could be twice as long as than the normal trip, with Tuesday, July 3, being the busiest day.

Even though the holiday being on a Wednesday might not be ideal for some people, AAA staff told us the 4th being on a weekday could ease your commute.

“Being on a weekday, it’s right in the middle of the week, means that it’s a longer holiday period and that means some people will take off early before independence day versus simply taking off after independence day.”

“With so many people taking to the roads, we would like to take a moment to remind everyone to drive safely,” said Georjeane Blumling, vice president of public affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “Drive distraction-free. Too many people are injured or killed every year because of distracted driving. You wouldn’t drive intoxicated. Please don’t drive ‘intexticated’. Arrive to your destination safe.

Distracted driving kills an average of nine people and injures 1,000 each day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It is the third leading driver-related cause of crash fatalities behind speeding and driving under the influence.

Some safety tips for drivers this holiday weekend:

  • Don’t drive distracted. Preset your GPS and put your cell phone down.
  • If riding with someone, seek their help if you need to navigate, make a call or send a message.
  • Keep your doors locked, your safety belts buckled and your children safe and secure in properly installed safety seats.
  • Plan ahead and take frequent breaks to avoid drowsy driving.
  • When stopping for breaks, never let kids go to the restroom alone. Always lock vehicle doors.
  • If stopping during nighttime travel, choose a well-lighted, populated facility. Park where your vehicle can be seen.
  • Pack a flashlight, water, blanket and first-aid kit, as well as emergency flares or reflective triangles should you break down.