TribLIVE

| News

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

40 million ready to leave home for holiday travel

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Megan Harris
Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Independence Day travel could draw an estimated 40.8 million Americans away from home on what experts dub the nation's deadliest holiday on the roads.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety last week reported that driving fatalities claimed more than 670 people on July 4 from 2007 to 2011. Teens were four times more likely to crash than any other age group, a statistic Julia Reusch, an Allstate spokeswoman, attributed largely to texting behind the wheel.

Peak travel from Wednesday to Sunday could be down slightly this year, according to AAA estimates, compared to the same six-day travel period in 2012.

AAA East Central President Jim Lehman called the dip normal for years with a shorter celebratory period.

“We are still seeing an overall upward trend from the decade low of 29.8 million July 4th travelers in 2009,” he said.

Law enforcement statewide pledged to set up checkpoints and roving patrols for drunken drivers. From June 29 to July 8 of last year, PennDOT recorded 355 alcohol-related crashes and 20 fatalities. From weekend to weekend in 2011, officers worked 325 crashes, including 14 fatalities.

Gas prices are unlikely to be a major factor in travel decisions this holiday, AAA said. By mid-June, prices were up an average of 2 percent compared to the same time in 2012 but still below this year's high. The average price of gasoline in Pittsburgh is $3.535 a gallon, slightly higher than the statewide and national averages of $3.451 and $3.496 a gallon, respectively, according to GasBuddy.com.

JoAnn Jenny, spokeswoman for the Allegheny County Airport Authority, encouraged air travelers to arrive at least two hours prior to takeoff from Pittsburgh International Airport.

“It's very busy here — a lot of vacations, a lot of business travel,” she said, “especially in our peak periods from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., but our people are used to working at the airport when everyone else wants to be off. It won't lighten up until September.”

Airlines for America, a Washington-based trade group, forecast a record number of passengers flying internationally, including 3.07 million in the U.S. alone. AAA said airfares stateside increased 6 percent from last year.

Pennsylvania Turnpike officials pledged to keep all lanes clear of construction through July 8, while the state's Fish and Boat Commission reminded people flocking to waterways that conservation officers are patrolling through the summer boating season. In 2012, authorities arrested 60 people on suspicion of boating under the influence.

Terry Brady, spokesman for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said state parks anticipate crowds following the rainy June weather.

“Our campgrounds are pretty locked up in reservations this weekend, about comparable to last year, but that's because so many people reserve early,” he said. “That was the case with Memorial Day, too, and that weekend (weather) was lousy.”

Megan Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5815 or mharris@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Allegheny

  1. Roman Catholic Church in midst of culture clash over gays
  2. Allegheny County Council candidates chosen for District 11 ballot
  3. East Liberty man arrested in connection with Larimer shooting
  4. 2 killed in single-vehicle crash in Pittsburgh
  5. Snake bites on the rise in Western Pa.
  6. Author of Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates its effects in Carnegie
  7. Pittsburgh police motorcycle officer seriously injured in crash
  8. Western Pa. prosecutors zero in on human trafficking; legislation pending
  9. Allegheny RAD executive director moving on after 2 decades
  10. Peduto pushes for affordable housing in East Liberty redevelopment
  11. Rising East Liberty out of reach for Pittsburgh’s poor