State of the interstate

Heavy traffic flows along Interstate 75 north of Wildwood. Expect lots of travelers this holiday.

If you’re heading out on the road this week to celebrate Independence Day, you’ll have a lot of company.

AAA -The Auto Club Group says 48.9 million Americans will travel from Wednesday, July 3 to Sunday, July 7. And 2.6 million will be Floridians. This would make it the most-traveled Independence Day holiday since 2000. 

Also out on the roads will be Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies, who will be looking out for drunk drivers.

“Our deputies will be out in full force this holiday weekend making sure everyone has a fun but safe independence holiday,” Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Brittney Carman said. 

Carman said the office is partnering with the Florida Sheriff’s Association for "Operation Knot Lit," to make sure people are not driving and boating while impaired.

Orlando tops the list of Independence Day travel destinations, according to AAA.

What’s driving all this travel? Lower gas prices, for one. Other reasons cited by AAA include a strong economy, low unemployment, robust consumer spending and rising disposable incomes.

“Travel times will nominally increase throughout the week, but Wednesday afternoon will certainly be the worst time to be on the road,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “In major metros, drivers could face delays as much as four times a normal commute. To avoid congestion leave early, identify alternative routes, and don’t drive through major metros between 3 and 7 p.m.”

And if you drink too much, AAA will again have its “Tow to Go” service running from Wednesday, July 3 to Friday, July 5.

It’s free and you don’t have to be a AAA member to use it. Visit to learn more.

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Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or

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