Americans are expected will take 36.8 million road trips over the Fourth of July weekend, making Independence Day the biggest road trip event so far this year. Compared to the American Automobile Association’s (AAA) travel prediction last year, road trip travel will be down 11 percent from the 41.1 million travelers AAA predicted in 2019.
According to latest data, Memorial Day road trip activity returned to pre-COVID-19 levels. Despite widespread social unrest and ongoing health threats from the novel coronavirus, the Daily Travel Index, a free resource posted online, continues to rise. The Daily Travel Index is expected to cross 100% for the first time over the Fourth of July weekend, meaning that twice as many travelers will hit the road compared to an average day in February.
The Daily Travel Index is a daily measure of road trip activity (trips by car over 50 miles) taken by residents of all 50 U.S. states, with volume indexed against a baseline of activity established just before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The prediction for Fourth of July road trip activity is based upon historical data captured within the Daily Travel Index and takes into account the day of week that road trips occur, seasonality, and the impact of COVID-19 on travel since the pandemic began in March.
The Daily Travel Index was launched on April 1, providing free access to the travel industry and the public. It has been adopted by the U.S. Travel Association and is incorporated into many other industry research tools. Road trips are generally considered to be the leading indicator of the return of the travel industry from the recession related to COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdowns designed to thwart its spread.
For the purpose of projections, the Independence Day Holiday travel period is defined as a five-day period between Wednesday, July 1, 2020 to Sunday, July 5, 2020. The actual forecast for domestic drive volume was based on daily drive volume recorded from July 1, 2019, IMHE projected COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., U.S. Department of Transportation State Motor Registrations, and travel and tourism economic factors such as seasonality and day of week.