As Gas Prices Drop, Holiday Car Travel Expected to Increase

AAA is predicting a 4 percent increase in the number of travelers hitting the roads this week over last year's holiday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    An area resident fills up his gas tank in West Los Angeles on Friday, June 29, 2012. Gas prices have dropped for the 44th straight day - a trend that will likely boost travel over the week of Fourth of July. AAA is predicting a nearly 4 percent jump in holiday travel in the region.

    Fourth of July holiday travelers are expected to hit the roads Friday afternoon and police officers are set to begin cracking down on traffic scofflaws and drunken motorists.

    Nearly 2.4 million Southern Californians are expected to drive to their destinations this holiday weekend and mid-week. That’s a 4  percent jump from the holiday period last year, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.

    The top destinations are San Diego, Las Vegas, San Francisco, the Grand Canyon, and the California Central Coast, AAA said.

    "If anyone is looking to leave anywhere and get out fast, be prepared to be in some traffic," California Highway Patrol Officer Tatiana Sauqullio said.

    More people are enticed to drive as gas prices have dropped to their lowest levels this year, AAA said.

    'It’s going to put more money into travelers' pockets and (they can) use that on travel-related expenses that they will enjoy more, such as eating out or going to an amusement," AAA spokeswoman Marie Montgomery said. "The dropping gas prices are certainly good news."

    The average price of regular gas in Los Angeles County fell on Friday to $3.79 per gallon -- its lowest since Jan. 29, AAA said. In Orange and Riverside/San Bernardino counties, gas was $3.75 and $3.77 per gallon, respectively.

    CHP officers will be working overtime in a "maximum enforcement period" that begins Tuesday at 6 p.m. through midnight July 5.

    The most recent crash data for a holiday period -- Memorial Day weekend -- showed a big jump in the number of people killed in collisions when compared to the same period in 2011: 24 people were killed statewide, a 41 percent jump over the previous year. Some 60 percent of the people killed were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.

    CHP officers recorded 1,367 DUI arrests across the state during the 2011 holiday weekend.

    CHP Officer Saul Gomez urged motorists to plan ahead, designate a driver and plan alternative routes.

    "Planning ahead is the most important part," he said.

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