IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) – Independence Day travelers will notice big changes at the pump as they fill up on the way out of town, according to AAA.
Idaho’s average price for regular is $3.44, which is ten cents more than a week ago and 19 cents more than a month ago.
Meanwhile, the U.S. average currently sits at $3.12 per gallon, which is four cents more than a week ago and eight cents more than a month ago.
This Independence Day, motorists will pay the most to fill up since 2014.
Here’s a 7-year retrospective on July 4 gas prices:
Higher fuel demand and soaring crude oil prices have placed significant upward pressure on gas prices, which are expected to rise throughout the weekend.
AAA projects 48 million Americans will travel for the July 4 holiday, with 261,000 Idahoans among them. That’s just 2.5% less than pre-pandemic levels and nearly 40% more than last year. Automobile travel will set a new record this year, as many Americans will choose the safety and convenience of a road trip over the COVID-19 restrictions associated with airline travel and other modes of mass transportation.
“Our research shows that most Americans won’t make any adjustments to their travel plans until gas prices hit $3.50 per gallon, but given the many challenges that people have faced in the last year, we would expect the pain threshold to be even higher this time around,” AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde said. “With ‘revenge travel’ and making up for lost time on everyone’s minds, we don’t see many plans changing based on higher pump prices.”
Thursday afternoon and Friday morning will be the busiest times for July 4 travel, as commuters and travelers share the roads. July 5 will be the busiest day for return trips, because many Americans have Monday as an observed holiday this year.
Worst & Best Times to Travel
|DAY||WORST TIME||BEST TIME|
|Thursday||3:00 – 5:00 PM||After 7:00 PM|
|Friday||4:00 – 5:00 PM||Before 12:00 PM|
|Saturday||11:00 AM – 1:00 PM||After 2:00 PM|
|Sunday||Traffic flows freely||Traffic flows freely|
|Monday||4:00 – 5:00 PM||Before 1:00 PM|
Due to extreme temperatures throughout the West, AAA is placing special emphasis on proper hydration this year. Please pack plenty of water and snacks for people and pets, and react quickly to any signs of heatstroke, including red skin, headaches, nausea, and a lack of sweating even though it’s hot. Children and pets should never be left in a hot car.
“From personal experience, I can say that the National Parks are extremely busy right now,” Conde said. “You need to arrive early for your best chance of getting into places like Arches National Park. In my family’s case, we couldn’t enter the park in the morning, so we explored Canyonlands and came back later in the day. If you do your homework, it’s usually possible to come up with a solid Plan B. There are some lesser known gems out there.”
AAA reminds travelers that face coverings are still required at airports, on airplanes, and in many other public transportation venues, and that state and city requirements may differ from federal requirements. For more information, check out AAA’s COVID-19 Travel Restrictions Map.
AAA to the rescue – common heat-related vehicle issues
Over the 4th of July weekend, AAA will respond to 461,000 calls for roadside assistance, with as many as 1,000 here in Idaho. Flat tires, dead batteries, and vehicle lockouts are among the most common culprits. Vehicle owners can take several steps to prevent a roadside mishap as the temperature spikes:
- Engine over-heating. Cooling systems protect vital engine parts. Coolant should be flushed and replaced periodically as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Battery failure due to heat and vibration. Make sure the battery is securely mounted to minimize vibration. A trained technician should test a battery that is three years old or older, as batteries can struggle to perform during extreme temperatures.
- Blown tires. Make sure tires are inflated to the correct pressure as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. This information can normally be found in the owner’s manual and the driver’s doorjamb. Check for signs of uneven wear, adequate tread depth, etc.
- Air conditioning failure. Over time, refrigerant levels can run low, making your trip less comfortable. Have your system tested if the vehicle cabin doesn’t cool as well as it should. Replace the cabin air filter as needed to prevent debris from blocking the flow of air.
If your vehicle overheats, pull off to the side of the road in a safe location. Normally, allowing the engine to idle will bring the temperature down rather quickly, but the presence of steam or coolant are signs of a more serious issue. In that situation, the engine should be shut off and the vehicle towed to a repair facility for further diagnosis.
“We ask motorists who will celebrate the holiday with alcohol to please do so responsibly,” Conde said. “Every year, there are road trips and boating excursions that end in tragedy. We’re hopeful that people will take a few extra precautions this year to help everyone make it home safely.”