Making Best Of Holiday Driving

More than 40 million Americans are expected to hit the road this Fourth of July weekend, so it could take longer than usual to reach your destination. Not only that, it's likely to cost more - considerably more.

"It's the highest gas prices we've ever seen coming (up to) a summer holiday," Justin McNaull of AAA tells co-anchor Hannah Storm on "(Prices are) 30 cents higher than a year ago, and 70 cents higher than 'the good old days' of $1.50 gas two years ago.

So, what to do?

"If you can, fit everything you need into your most fuel efficient car. If you're not taking a passel of kids, if you're not towing a boat, take that economy car, the one that gets much better gas mileage. Leave the SUV at home.

"Make sure the car is properly maintained. If you're not keeping your tires properly inflated, getting the routine maintenance you should, you could be cutting fuel economy by 10 percent or more.

"When you're traveling, you'll see those big signs on the Interstate that have gas prices on them. When you see prices that look good, stop there. You can find great variations from exit to exit."

Travel organizations are reporting for the first time on the most heavily congested vacation destinations.

They include:
  1. Oregon Coast
  2. Tidewater Region of Virginia
  3. Maryland/Delaware Shore
  4. Branson, Missouri
  5. Outer Banks of North Carolina
  6. Cape Cod
  7. New Jersey Shore
  8. Napa Valley
  9. Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish Country
  10. Catskill Mountains region of New York
"They're great places to go. They're really popular," observes McNaull. "The challenge that you hit is that a lot of them just have two-lane roads, sometimes even just one or two of them that get people in and out, and we all try to get there at the same time, and congestion ensues. A lot of families will actually find more congestion on their vacation trips than mom and dad have found commuting to and from work."

Common sense can help you steer clear of the worst traffic. "Friday afternoon, Friday evening (are the times of heaviest traffic) for most destinations," McNaull notes, so take your trip at other times if possible.

And modern technology is delivering all sorts of help: "Look at whatever information you can get to avoid traffic. As you're planning your trip, one thing we've added is, our Internet TripTik now has (information on) historic traffic congestion, so you can plan ahead.

"A lot of state departments of transportation now have real-time traffic information. So that last thing you do before the leave the house, see how the traffic looks.

"When you're on the road itself, about half of the states now have 511 services, where the passenger, not the driver, the passenger can use a cell phone and check in on traffic information.

"You can also find a lot of destinations now have special radio frequencies where you can dial in on the A.M band to hear about traffic on the way."
  • Brian Dakss

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