AAA on Monday predicted that more than 4.9 million Californians will be traveling over the upcoming July 4 holiday weekend, the biggest number since 2002 and the second-highest on record.
AAA said its survey is based on state residents traveling 50 miles or more from their homes.
“Economic growth, increased disposable income and lower prices have spurred many Californians to celebrate our Independence Day weekend by traveling,” said Cynthia Harris, AAA Northern California spokeswoman. “We are well on our way for 2016 to be a record-breaking year for summertime travel.”
Various travel experts contend that Californians and their fellow Americans have been traveling in strong numbers since mid-May.
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In California, relatively low gas prices have eased the cost of traveling.
The average retail gas price statewide on Monday was $2.90 a gallon, according to the AAA’s gas prices tracker. Summer is a time when gas prices historically rise aggressively with increased road travel, but the current statewide average is up only 10 cents from a month ago.
A year ago, the statewide average price of gasoline was $3.45 a gallon.
AAA said the average retail price of gas in Fresno on Monday was $2.84 a gallon, up about 7 cents from last month and 55 cents below the year-ago average.
The group also reported the national average fell 2.5 cents over the past week to close to $2.31 a gallon, down 1.2 cents from last month and 47.2 cents below the average one year ago.
Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, said Britain’s recent vote to leave the European Union is likely to push gas prices even lower in the near future.
“Brexit’s impact – strengthening the U.S. dollar; weakening European currencies and weakening global crude oil prices – is expected to add even more downward pressure to summer gas prices despite record-setting demand of 9.81 million barrels per day for the week ending June 17,” Laskoski said.
AAA projects that approximately 3.9 million Californians will drive to reach their July 4 holiday weekend destinations, and more than 600,000 will travel by air. More than 428,000 state residents plan to travel by other modes of transportation, including rail, bus and watercraft.
Nationally, AAA predicted that more than 43 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the three-day Fourth of July holiday weekend. AAA said that would be the highest July 4 travel volume on record.
AAA noted that the national figures have been boosted in part by a nearly 10 percent projected decrease in airfares on major air routes over the holiday.