SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A record-breaking number of drivers across the nation took advantage of a four-day weekend and low gas prices this Fourth of July. But busier roadways also increases the likelihood of crashes.
37.5 million Americans hit the road during the holiday weekend. That’s more people than ever before.
“That’s the record high,” said Michael Right, vice president of Public Affairs with AAA Missouri. “We’ve never had that many people out and about over the Fourth of July holiday period, ever.”
Right says the state of Missouri also hit a record high this year with a three percent increase compared to last year. He says a long weekend and cheaper gas were some of the reasons people chose to drive.
Gas buddy reports gas prices across the nation were the lowest they’ve been since 2005.
“Certainly the fact that it was on a Tuesday helped a great deal, as does the fact that gasoline prices are quite low compared to recent years, and overall the general economic conditions that people are faced with,” Right said.
But more cars on the road traffic can also mean more crashes. The Missouri State Highway Patrol reports it worked 494 crashes state wide, 186 injuries, and 14 deaths. Six of those fatalities happened in Southwest Missouri, 44 people were injured and 96 crashes were reported.
“That’s 40 more crashes, that’s 23 more injuries and five more people lost their lives this year compared to the same time last year,” said Sgt. Jason Pace.
The good news is that there were no fatalities on Missouri waterways this holiday weekend.
This year the Highway Patrol reported seven crashes, four injuries, and zero fatalities. In 2016 there were 11 boating crashes, six injuries, and zero fatal incidents.
Sgt. Pace says they’d like to keep fatalities at zero for the rest of the summer and avoid any other ones on the roads
“Be extra cautious, if you’re not familiar with the area and even if you are familiar with the area,” he said.