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AAA: 47 million expected to travel over July 4 holiday

If you're planning to travel by car this weekend, we learned the worst times to hit the road.
Credit: WLTX

COLUMBIA, S.C. — More than 47 million Americans will travel this 4th of July weekend.

According to AAA, these numbers could set a record. 

News 19 learned the worst times to hit the road.

"All this pent-up demand was just unleashed for the Memorial Day holiday. I think it's going to continue with this Independence Day holiday," said Tiffany Wright, Public Affairs Director for AAA.

Travel in 2021 is rebounding in a big way.

AAA predicts just under 689,000 South Carolinians will travel 50 miles or more this weekend. 635,000 will be traveling by car.

"2019 was the biggest number that we have seen on record. Obviously we didn't do a forecast for 2020 because there just weren't any numbers to report on, but we expect these numbers are going to creep up there."

RELATED: July 1 saw more air travelers than same date in 2019

This year, AAA is also predicting a lot of last-minute road trippers - often referred to as "wait-and-see travelers".

"People aren't necessarily making bookings weeks out," said Knight. "You have people that are actually deciding this weekend if they're going to take a road trip."

For a return trip, AAA says to expect the most traffic late Monday afternoon.

RELATED: New team to crack down on aggressive driving in South Carolina

Gas prices will be some of the highest we've seen in seven years.

Right now in South Carolina, a gallon of regular gas runs $2.81 on average.

"We're paying right now anywhere between 80 and 90 cents more than we did this time last year," said Wright.

The worst time to take off? Rush hour.

"So any time between 3 and 5, you're going to see traffic volume at its highest," said Wright.

AAA says keep in mind when you're traveling this weekend, you'll not only experience higher gas prices, but higher hotel rates and rental car rates as well.

If you're planning to pop fireworks this weekend, Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins says keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Use fireworks away from homes, dry grass and trees - and be mindful of where you point them
  • Keep water and a fire extinguisher nearby
  • Make sure only adults pop the fireworks with kids a safe distance away
  • If a firework goes out, don't re-light it
  • Don't hold a lit firework in your hand 
  • Soak them before throwing them away outside
  • Always buy fireworks from an established dealer (For example, you can verify a Columbia seller is established if they have a corresponding sticker displayed from the Columbia Fire Department)
  • Be respectful of your neighbors

RELATED: Have a blast this 4th of July weekend with these fireworks shows in South Carolina

"Fireworks can be a nuisance. You may enjoy them, but there may be some people who can not take that type of loud noise. You have animals that can't take the loud noise, you may have veterans who can't take that loud noise. So just be aware of their surroundings," said Jenkins. "We say have fun, but do it safely."

Many people consider sparklers a safer alternative to fireworks, but Jenkins and doctors with Prisma Health say to still be extra careful, as sparklers can burn at temperatures reaching 2,000 degrees.

RELATED: How to keep your pets safe and happy this July 4th