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Holiday travellers choosing cruises, beach trips to celebrate Fourth
Approximately 1.2 million Georgians are expected to travel the holiday
Air travelers line up at a curbside check in this image from video as they arrive at O'Hare International Airport on Monday, July 2, 2007. Despite heightened security because of failed car-bombings in Britain, more than 41 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from their homes sometime this week, a new record for Independence Day travel. - photo by Associated Press
    More than 41 million Americans, including nearly 1.2 million Georgians, will be traveling somewhere for this Fourth of July holiday, according to information from AAA. That total represents a modest 0.8 percent increase from last year, but for the southeast, it’s only a 0.4 percent increase.
    With the holiday falling on a Wednesday this year, millions of Americans got a jump start on their travel plans with about 17 million leaving this past Friday for their vacation plans.
    Cruises were popular trips, said Susan Deskins, AAA travel manager, but said it’s too late to book one now for the Fourth of July. Those driving to their destinations are choosing the beach for their trips, she said.
Kevin Bakewell, senior vice president for AAA Auto Club South, said many families are planning their vacations around the holiday, meaning there will likely be a noticeable increase in traffic on the interstates.
    “Our Independence Day holiday brings a great opportunity for beaches, barbecues and baseball,” said Bakewell.
    Gasoline prices in the southeast have dropped as much as a quarter from their peak prices in May, but they are still 12 to 17 cents higher than they were at this time last year, according to information from the price tracking site
    Nationally, the price for a gallon of regular unleaded is at $2.95, up four cents from last year. In Georgia, gas is about nine cents lower than the national average. In the Savannah market, the closet market to Statesboro that is tracked by the site, the price is one penny cheaper than the state average.
    The Georgia State Patrol is predicting 1,015 crashes, 397 injuries and six deaths during the 30-hour holiday period that begins today at 6 p.m. and runs through midnight, Wednesday. Last year’s 78 hour period saw 30 fatalities and nearly 3,000 crashes.
    In 2001, the last time there was a 30-hour holiday period, there were four traffic deaths and nearly 1,200 crashes.
    Col. Bill Hitches, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, urged drivers to use caution, no matter how short their trip may be.
    “Don’t drive if you have been consuming alcoholic beverages, check that everyone is wearing a safety belt, and avoid distractions inside your vehicle that can cause you to make a driving mistake,” he said.
    Luke Martin can be reached at (912) 489-9454.
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