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Gas at four-year high for July Fourth holiday, a deadly day to drive on U.S. roads

Gas prices up ahead of July Fourth

As motorists pay more to fill their tanks this Independence Day -- with gas prices at a four-year high for the holiday -- safety advocates are urging caution during celebrations that turn deadly on U.S. roadways.

The national average for a gallon of gas on Tuesday stood at $2.86, making it the costliest for an Independence Day holiday in four years, according to AAA. That said, the nearly 40 million motorists expected to travel this week will pay 11 cents less per gallon at the pump than they did this past Memorial Day holiday, the motorist club noted.

"The national gas price average has held fairly steady for the past 10 days, suggesting that U.S. demand is keeping pace with supply and stabilizing summer gas prices," a spokesperson for the motorist group said in a statement. "However, elevated crude oil prices and other geopolitical concerns could tilt gas prices more expensive in the early fall despite an expected increase in global crude production from OPEC and its partners."

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AAA

Those elevated prices were in play in commodity markets on Tuesday, with global supply concerns pushing crude-oil futures above $75 a barrel for the first time since 2014, with outages reported in Libya, Canada and Venezuela.

Holiday driving can also be costly in ways that hit more than one's bank account. The National Safety Council estimates 164 Americans will die and 18,600 will be injured on U.S. roads this Independence Day, which the council measures from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. 

During the Independence Day period, 41 percent of fatalities involved an alcohol-impaired driver, the highest percentage among all the major holidays, according to the NSC.

During the Fourth of July holiday in 2016, which extended from 6 p.m. July 2 to 5:59 a.m. July 6, 188 people were killed in crashes involving drunk drivers, a 29 percent increase from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA. 

Car services, taxis and local transit are all better options than driving impaired, with the federal agency pointing to its SaferRide app for iPhone and Android phones to call for a ride and to share the pick-up location.

AAA clubs offer free Safe Ride services in 20 states listed here, with the motor club advising people to call (855) 2-TOW-2-GO or (855) 286-9246 for assistance.

Ride-hailing services including Lyft, Via and Curb offered discounted fares as part of an effort to curb drunk driving in cities including New York.