Experts: Give yourself extra travel time this weekend

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Whether you’re hitting the road or hopping on a plane this holiday weekend, you might want to give yourself some extra travel time.

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With gas prices and air fares down, experts believe this will be the busiest Fourth of July weekend ever in terms of travel. In fact, AAA predicted a record 43 million people will be traveling, with 84 percent of those people driving to their destinations.

“The heaviest road travel will be of course on Friday around 3 to 8 p.m. and on Monday, of course, around late afternoon,” said AAA Sales and Service Agent Brent Dabler.

The average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. is currently $2.20, the lowest for a Fourth of July weekend in 11 years.

Rhode Island State Police urged drivers to be responsible on the roads, saying troopers will be out in force looking for impaired drivers.

“The fourth of July is the most dangerous holiday, nationally,” said Col. Steven O’Donnell. “Most people die from alcohol related tragedies so we’re asking people if they’re going to drink and celebrate, be responsible don’t drive.”

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that from 2010 to 2014, an average of 118 lives are lost in crashes each year on Independence Day. It finds 47% of those deaths involved at least one driver, pedestrian or bicyclist with blood alcohol levels of at least .08.

Col. O’Donnell said he urges everyone to plan ahead as they celebrate this weekend – use a designated driver, call a cab and call 911 to report impaired drivers.

Last year, there were no fatalities from drunk driving crashes in Rhode Island over the holiday – but state police say 13 people were arrested for DUI.

An additional 3.3 million people are expected to fly this weekend and they’ll be facing a different kind of traffic.

In the wake of the deadly terror attack in Turkey this week, law enforcement officers around the U.S. are on high alert. Air travelers will notice increased security at all airports, including T.F. Green in Warwick. Officials said they’re adding high-visibility patrols equipped with tactical weapons and equipment at major airports across the country.

The decision comes out of an abundance of caution, as there’s no specific or credible intelligence about an attack.

ISIS has, however, called for more Western attacks during Ramadan, which marks its holiest day on Saturday and ends next Tuesday.

Security will also be increased at weekend events, including the celebration at the Esplanade in Boston. No backpacks, shopping bags, or coolers with wheels will be allowed and after 4 p.m., nothing will be allowed through security other than chairs, tarps, or small blankets.

Annie Shalvey contributed to this report. 

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