Record-Breaking Holiday Travel Expected In Arkansas
The 4th of July holiday weekend is expected to be one of the largest on record for the number of cars on the country’s roads and highways.
AAA estimates nearly 48 million Americans will travel over the weekend, including just over 4 million in Arkansas and three neighboring states. AAA spokesperson Nick Chabarria says that’s following a trend of increased road travel since COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
“We’ve certainly seen an increase in travel really throughout the year, starting back in January. We know that as vaccines roll out and restrictions get lifted and folks get more comfortable with travel that they’re venturing out, so this 4th of July weekend is no exception,” Chabarria said.
Chabarria says the increase in traffic aligns with the lifting of pandemic travel restrictions, coupled with hesitancy to travel by plane or other methods of transportation. He says the influx in passenger car travel will also be seen in Arkansas and neighboring states.
“The Arkansas region includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. For that region we’re looking at 4.6 million travelers, again with the vast majority going by car at 4.1 million,” Chabarria said.
Chabarria says those numbers represent a 32% increase compared to this time last year, and a slight decrease of about 7% compared to pre-pandemic travel in 2019.
Chabarria says about 91% of overall holiday travel will be by car, representing a nearly 27% increase in the region compared to this time last year. He says about 400,000 people in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas will also be traveling by plane over the holiday weekend.
For those traveling by car, Chabarria says gas prices will be lower in the region compared to the rest of the country.
“Currently Arkansas’ statewide gas price average is $2.81. That’s lower than the national average right now at $3.12. We are expecting this to be the highest gas prices nationwide and in Arkansas for the Independence Day holiday weekend since 2014,” Chabarria said.
Chabarria says the busiest travel times will likely be late afternoon Thursday, Friday and Monday as well as late morning and early afternoon Saturday.