AAA expects a record number of Ohioans to travel at least 50 miles from home during the Independence Day holiday period, beginning July 3rd through Sunday. The state's anticipated road travel volume of 2.1 million marks an increase of 4.7 percent from last year. AAA Ohio Auto Club spokesperson Kimberly Schwind tied the increase to the economy.
"We have strong economic fundamentals, and they continue to boost travel numbers," Schwind said. "We have low unemployment and rising disposable income. People are making more money. They're more confident in the economy, and so they're using that money on things like travel. That's what we've been seeing over the last several holiday travel periods, and that continues over Independence Day as well."
The gas tax that took effect this week will not hinder travel, according to Schwind. In fact, gasoline prices in general have little or no role when it comes to Independence Day trips.
"This is really the time of year that people are taking their big family trip," Schwind said. "The kids are out of school. We have that extra day off during the week. Gas prices typically do not keep people home, especially the gas prices we've been seeing this year. Throughout the summer, we've been seeing gas prices here in Ohio for the most part on average below year-ago levels. So that 10.5 cent increase because of the gas tax is not going to impact people's decision on whether to travel. Here in Ohio, we're used to seeing gas prices increase before major holidays, and that doesn't keep people home. They just kind of grin and bare it. With that gas tax going into effect, we're actually seeing gas prices here in Ohio below year-ago levels."
With 88,000 more Ohioans on the road this year than last, Schwind stressed patience on the roads over the next few days especially in peak times during the afternoon and evening hours of July 3. AAA also advises motorists to make sure their vehicle is road-trip ready in terms of maintenance. The auto club expects to assist more than 360,000 drivers nationwide and about 15,000 in Ohio with various vehicle break downs during the holiday period. While most Ohioans are driving, air travel is also expected to increase in Ohio by about 5 percent.