Enquirer Herald

Fourth weekend: Cheaper gas, no road work and lots of police

Carolinas travelers hitting the road this Independence Day weekend -- and there are more of them than last year -- will find cheaper gasoline prices, a lack of construction projects, and good weather.

They also will see plenty of police.

The S.C. Highway Patrol said Thursday they are conducting major crackdowns this weekend on drunk driving, and both law enforcement agencies also said they will be going after speeders and aggressive drivers.

AAA Carolinas says Fourth of July motor vehicle travel will be three percent higher than last July 4, with 485,000 South Carolina residents traveling 50 miles or more.

As usual, most people are traveling by motor vehicle. Only four percent of Carolinas residents traveling this weekend are flying.

Those who travel by motor vehicle face some danger. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says July 4 typically is the most dangerous 24-hour holiday of the year, with an average of 144 traffic deaths reported on that date each of the last five years.

The Carolinas' Highway Patrol officials held news conferences earlier this week, announcing their intention to get drunk drivers off the road. Last year about 800 DUI arrests were made in South Carolina during the July 4 weekend. The state agency, along with county and local police departments, plans hundreds of DWI checkpoints and saturation patrols over the next four days.

Here's what you can expect on your holiday travels this weekend:

Gas prices: With a much lower fuel tax, the Palmetto State's gas prices are among the lowest in the nation. The state average, according to AAA, is $3.29 a gallon. That compares to $3.54 a gallon nationally.

Highway construction: All road projects in the Carolinas will be suspended at 4 p.m. today until Tuesday morning.

Flying? About 70,000 Carolinas residents are expected to travel by air this July 4 weekend. That's up 17 percent in South Carolina from last Independence Day. That is despite an 11 percent increase in average air fares over the past year.

Hotels: High occupancy rates are being reported up and down the Carolinas coast, and in the popular mountain areas. Hotel prices are up 13 percent over a year ago, but hotel bookings have increased 12 percent over last July 4 weekend.