1.2 Million Plan Fourth of July Travel, Up From Last Year, Reports AAA Michigan

Jun 23, 2010, 08:00 ET from AAA Michigan

DEARBORN, Mich., June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- An estimated 1.2 million Michiganians will travel on vacation during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, up from last year's 1 million, says AAA Michigan.

Nationally, AAA projects approximately 34.9 million travelers taking a trip at least 50 miles from home, up 17 percent from last year.  The 2010 Fourth of July holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, July 1 to Monday, July 5.

The July 4th holiday period is typically the busiest time of year for family auto travel – and this year, trips by automobile are expected to increase in popularity nationally, with 90 percent of travelers driving.  In Michigan, an estimated 1,111,981 will drive to their destination, while an estimated 29,000 will travel by air and 64,000 will go by bus, train or other mode of transportation.

"The U.S. economy is in a much different place than it was one year ago," noted AAA Michigan President Steve Wagner.  "We're seeing more travelers taking to the road to visit family and friends."  Michigan motorists will find gas prices slightly higher than last year -- $2.74 as of June 22 – up four cents per gallon.

The average distance traveled by Americans this Fourth of July holiday weekend is forecast to be 617 miles, about the same as last year.  Median spending is estimated to be $644, nearly $50 less than last year.  Fifty-eight percent of Americans will spend time with friends and relatives over the holiday.

According to AAA's Leisure Travel Index, airfares over the holiday weekend are expected to increase 13 percent from last year as air passengers will pay a lowest average round-trip fare of $192 per ticket.  However, it is important to note that fares for the prior year dropped 16 percent – and in spite of the increase this year – fares are below the average from two years ago.  Weekend daily car rental rates will increase four percent to an average of $54.  Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond lodgings are also expected to increase four percent from a year ago, with travelers spending an average of $143 per night.

This holiday weekend, AAA Michigan will once again partner with the Michigan State Police (MSP) in supporting Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort).  Bright yellow banners will be posted at rest areas statewide, with many sites offering complimentary coffee and refreshments.  Volunteers will provide information about some of the major causes of deadly crashes and how to avoid them.

This July 1 also marks the start of Michigan's new law that prohibits texting while driving.  The new law is a primary offense, which means drivers can be pulled over and ticketed based on a text message offense alone.  Violators face a fine of $100 for the first offense and $200 for subsequent offenses.  AAA was active in helping to get the law passed.

AAA's projections are based on economic forecasting and research conducted by IHS Global Insight.  AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades.  The complete AAA/HIS Global Insight 2010 July 4th holiday forecast can be found at AAA.com/news.