Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Drivers Urged to Be Cautious This July 4 Record Number of Travelers Expected for Holiday Weekend

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Drivers Urged to Be Cautious This July 4 Record Number of Travelers Expected for Holiday Weekend

Article excerpt

Whether it's driving to visit friends and relatives or celebrating at home, the watchwords for the July 4th holiday are the same: Be safe.

That may be more important than ever this year during the longer-than-normal holiday period, with many workers taking off Friday and Monday to take advantage of the Tuesday holiday, stretching their weekend to five days.

As a result, more people are expected to hit the road for what experts say is the most dangerous driving day of the year. According to AAA, the long weekend and lower gasoline prices will result in a July 4th weekend record 44.2 million people traveling more than 50 miles, 37.5 million of them driving.

In AAA's Mid-Atlantic region of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania alone, about 5 million drivers are expected to hit the road. The Pennsylvania Turnpike expects 3.5 million vehicles through Wednesday with the busiest times being Friday (750,000 vehicles) and Wednesday (650,000).

Part of what's driving heavy travel is gasoline prices, which stand at about $2.28 a gallon nationally and $2.57 in the Pittsburgh area, both reflecting the absence of the usual summer price increase.

But that heavy travel volume brings with it the first call for safety: A study released this week by Geotab, a Canadian telematics and GPS vehicle tracking company, found that during the past 10 years July 4 has the most fatal traffic accidents of any day in the U.S.

Through last year, July 4 averaged 119 deadly crashes each year.

Using a formula based on fatal accidents per 1 billion miles driven to develop an average fatal crash rate for every day of the year, the company determined July 4 is the most dangerous day to drive, with a 14.9 fatal crash rate.

The study also found 47 percent of those fatal crashes involved drivers using alcohol, the highest rate for any day of the year. …

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