Buckle up for traffic over the July 4 weekend, when millions of Americans are expected to hit the road.
An estimated 44.2 million people will travel at least 50 miles from home during this break, according to AAA. Most of those people — 37.5 million — will do so by car, a 2.9 percent increase from last year.
The auto club defined the July 4th travel period this year as Friday through the Tuesday holiday, compared to the Thursday-through-Monday stretch in 2016.
With July 4 falling on a Tuesday, some workers may be able to take a four-day weekend, making a quick road trip even more inviting. But when are the best and worst times to travel?
Traffic analytics firm Inrix used historical data to make predictions for the best and worst times to drive. Here’s what you should know.
If possible, leave Thursday or Saturday, Inrix advised. The company also said to expect heavy local traffic around popular fireworks viewing spots within cities.
Also be cautious when driving — an average of 118.4 people die in July 4 car crashes annually, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which studied data from 2010 to 2014. The institute said alcohol use and unhelmeted motorcyclists contribute significantly to the number of fatalities.
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New York City
If you’re heading out of the Big Apple and going south toward Atlantic City, N.J., “expect travel times to be an hour higher on Friday versus the weekend,” Mark Burfeind, director of public relations for Inrix, said in an email to Fox News.
Going to New England? Burfeind said Friday travel times may double for travelers going toward Stamford, Conn., on I-95. The Wednesday return trip may also involve a 25 percent increase in travel times, he warned.
Outbound routes are expected to have particularly bad traffic windows on Friday afternoon and early Friday evening.
Many of the best traffic windows for drivers traveling along outbound routes are expected to be during the morning from Friday through Wednesday.
Inrix also suggests traveling toward Ontario, Canada, on Saturday, not Friday. The company said that one day’s difference could save drivers 40 minutes in travel time.
Drivers going toward Santa Monica on I-10 should “expect higher travel times on Saturday and Sunday versus Friday,” according to Burfeind. If you’re driving to Los Angeles from Santa Monica, he suggests leaving before 2 p.m. local time — because traffic times could double between 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.
“Extremely long delays” are predicted Friday for those taking Chicago I-90 to I-94 to get out of the Windy City, Burfeind said. He said the worst times will likely happen during the afternoon commute.
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However, a Wednesday return trip along the same route should probably be “largely congestion-free,” Burfeind said.
Headed back to Houston on the Katy Freeway on Wednesday? Travel times may double from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. local time, Burfeind says.
If you’re taking inbound routes, some good travel times for drivers are predicted for late Saturday afternoon and early Saturday evening.
Drivers heading both into and out of the City of Brotherly Love may expect bad travel periods on Friday afternoon, according to Inrix.
Some of the best times for outbound routes are expected for late afternoon and early evening times on Sunday and Monday.