Record number in S.C. to hit road for Fourth of July

About 541,000 South Carolinians are expected to drive 50 miles or more from home this July Fourth weekend, AAA Carolinas says.

A travel group is projecting a record number of July Fourth holiday travelers among South Carolinians this week, a reflection of a strengthening economy and lower gas prices than a year ago.

AAA Carolinas estimated that 614,700 residents will travel 50 miles or more from home for the Independence Day weekend, marking the highest number based on the club’s surveys since 2001.

Most of them, about 541,000, will drive to their destinations. The July Fourth travel window is defined as Wednesday through Sunday.

“With students home from school, Independence Day is typically the busiest summer travel holiday,” David Parsons, CEO of AAA Carolinas, said in a statement.

On average, motorists will be paying 95 cents a gallon less than they did a year ago, with the current average gasoline price in South Carolina at $2.44 as of Tuesday. The highest average price is in Charleston at $2.52. The lowest in Spartanburg, at $2.36.

Ten traffic deaths were reported in the state during the July Fourth travel period last year, the highest since 2009. Alcohol was a factor in three of the fatalities, according to AAA.

South Carolina’s Highway Patrol said it plans to have more checkpoints and patrols for the holiday as part of its “Target Zero” campaign that targets speeders, texting while driving and drunken drivers.

The S.C. Department of Transportation began prohibiting lane closures on interstate highways and high-volume multilane primary routes last week. That will continue through 10 p.m. Sunday, AAA said.