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      AAA Carolinas: 4th of July travel will increase this year

      AAA Carolinas says lower gas prices, lower unemployment, and consumer optimism mean more 4th of July travelers.

      AAA says more than 485,000 South Carolinians are expected to travel 50 miles or more over the three-day weekend. That's a three percent increase over last year.

      The travel group says, "Traffic crash statistics show July 4th to typically be the single most dangerous 24-hour holiday of the year nationally. An average 144 traffic deaths occurred on July 4th each year from 2005 to 2009, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety."

      In the past six weeks, AAA says, gas prices have dropped 46 cents per gallon.

      The current average price for regular unleaded gas in the Myrtle Beach area is $3.28. That's down a penny since yesterday and seven cents since last week. A month ago we were paying an average of $3.52 and a year ago, $2.50. Don't you wish we were back at those prices?

      According to AAA Carolinas' 4th of July travel survey:

      • More than 458,000 travelers are expected to use personal automobiles for transportation to their destination, an increase of five percent over last year.
      • More than 23,500 South Carolinians are expected to fly during the July 4th weekend, a 17 percent increase over last year but representing less than five percent of total travelers. Airfares have increased eleven percent across the country since last year.
      • Unemployment in the state has dropped to 9.8 percent, down 1.4 percentage points since last May.
      • Hotel bookings are up 12 percent in the Carolinas, despite prices being up 13 percent.
      • AAA TripTik customized route mapping services are up five percent from May last year.
      • AAA Carolina's Emergency Road Service reported a three percent increase in calls for May 2011.

      Are you planning to travel this holiday weekend? Or are you planning a staycation?