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Heavy holiday travel expected


The Fourth of July travel weekend is underway and is expected to be the busiest on record for Southland residents, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

More than 3 million Southern California residents are expected to take  an Independence Day vacation this year—a 1.3 percent increase over the 2015 Independence Day weekend, according to the Auto Club.

Eighty percent of Southern California travelers, or 2.41 million, are expected to drive to their holiday destinations—an increase of 1 percent from last year’s 2.39 million car travelers. Another 375,000 are expected to go by air—an increase of 3 percent from 2015’s 364,000 air travelers.

Around the state, more than 4.9 million are expected to travel over the Independence Day holiday, a 1.3 percent increase from last year, with 3.9 million going by car, up 1 percent from 2015, and 605,000 by air, up 3 percent.

Nationally, Fourth of July travel is also expected to increase by 1.3 percent—to 42.9 million from last year’s 42.3 million, according to the AAA.

“Lower gas prices have put some more disposable income in travelers’ budgets and have also lowered average airfares, encouraging more trips this holiday season and throughout the summer,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services. “We’re also seeing more travelers willing to spend a little extra on credit with a growth in consumer confidence.”

Gas prices are now on the rise toward $3 a gallon in Southern California, but for most of the year they have been well below $3 a gallon and are currently about 60 cents lower on average than at this time in 2015 and $1.20 lower than the 2014 July Fourth holiday.

According to a survey of AAA Travel agents, the top five destinations for Southern Californians this holiday are, in the following order, San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Yosemite.

In light of high temperatures recently, the Auto Club is urging those taking a road trip to have their vehicles checked by a reliable mechanic before departure. The Auto Club expects to rescue 66,000 Southland motorists over this holiday—about 18 percent of the 370,000 rescues it will perform nationwide.

Flat or blown-out tires and dead batteries are the top causes of breakdowns in extreme heat, the Auto Club said, urging people planning to travel by road to bring plenty of fluids along to stay hydrated in the event of a roadside emergency.