NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With July 4 falling on a Tuesday this year, millions are hitting the roads and the skies Friday for a four-day holiday weekend.
More than 44 million Americans are expected to travel more than 50 miles, according to AAA.
“AAA is predicting a record travel volume for the Independence Day holiday weekend,” said AAA’s Jana Tidwell. “More travelers will take the roadways and take to the skies than any other previous July 4 weekend.”
As their mom fills up, Elias and Ethan are hopping around, preparing for the Fourth of July holiday weekend and all that it brings.
“I hate traffic cause we always get stuck in it,” Elias said.
The Hardnett family left early to beat traffic, traveling down the New Jersey Turnpike to exit 7-A towards Looney Tunes and Roller Coasters.
“Got a whole summer full of fun surprises, not going to tell them where we’re going, what we’re doing just gonna put them in the car early in the morning and show up somewhere fun,” said Chantel Hardnett.
Why so busy? Blame it on an improving economy. Families are feeling comfortable spending and their dollar stretches further at the pump. U.S. gas prices are at historic summer lows.
“They’ve been declining for the past 30 days,” said Tidwell. “That is a lot of extra disposable income in people’s pockets and promotes the willingness to travel.”
AAA says air travel is up nearly five percent from last year thanks to cheaper fares. Hector Mendoza says he got a deal and won’t be driving to JFK.
“Uber is coming to get me and somebody’s picking me up at the airport when I get there,” he said. “I’m not driving anymore.”
Rental cars are also cheaper, but remember, timing is everything.
“If you can travel during off-peak hours — early morning, later at night after the p.m. rush-hour — you’ll definitely see a reduction and congestion,” said Tidwell.
Despite the crowds, stay focused on the road and the festivities ahead of you.
But it’s not all fun and games. AAA expects to rescue more than 300,000 stranded drivers this holiday weekend.
For those staying closer to home, the NYPD says thousands of police officers will be out in force for the fireworks.
“I can tell you that there are currently no specific, credible threats against the Fourth of July celebration or the city,” Commissioner James O’Neill told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.
The department’s plans are always evolving, and they’ll be prepared to counter a potential truck attack.
“Ever since Nice, we’ve redeployed sand trucks and blocker vehicles in all major events,” he said.
Police will be in the air, on the water and on the ground.
“Behind all of that you will see one of either vapor wake or explosive detention canine dogs,” Counterterrorism Chief Jim Waters said.