Traffic Nightmare Expected For Fourth Of July Weekend

July 03, 2019 - 12:42 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A lower cost for gasoline and a four-day weekend for most means throngs of drivers were already hitting the roads Wednesday afternoon for Independence Day.

Robert Sinclair Jr., of the American Automobile Association, tells WCBS 880’s Steve Scott that a record number of travelers are expected to flock to New York City and is cautioning commuters to account for significant delays.

“The economy is good, people have a lot more disposable income and it looks like many are choosing to spend that money by taking a trip with the overwhelming majority driving to their destination that's why we're seeing more than 41 million driving and nearly 49 million total traveling for the holiday,” he says.

He jokes that drivers who want to avoid the biggest crowds should have left “maybe last week some time.”

According to Sinclair, the Wednesday before the holiday is the worst time to leave for the holiday, especially between 1:45 and 3:45 p.m.

“I give the recommendation, and have done so for some years now, that you could travel on the holiday itself. You get up early that morning, say you leave at 6 a.m., if your destination is 200 miles away, that's four hours, you'll be there by 10 a.m.,” he said. “I think that's more than enough time to get on with the celebrations and you will hit probably little or no traffic on that trip.”

Gas prices are also down compared to last Fourth of July, possibly contributing to more people being willing to drive to their destinations instead of flying.

He notes the national average for gasoline sits at $2.66, which is 18 cents less than last year.

In terms of coming home from the holiday weekend, Sinclair recommends possibly cutting trips a little short as Sunday is supposed to be complete gridlock.

“Sunday at 6 p.m. until midnight is when it's going to be hammer time – that's when it's going to be really crowded and we're anticipating that a trip might take two, three, four times longer than normal during those hours,” Sinclair said.