These Are the Best and Worst Times to Hit the Road This Fourth of July Weekend

Plan your road trip accordingly to beat heavy traffic

Traffic jam at road.Background blurred
Jung Getty / Getty Images

Independence Day weekend means a few things—pools, barbecues, and a good old-fashion family road trip to the house of whoever decides to host. And if there's one thing you can be sure to expect, it's the inevitable traffic you'll hit making your way down the highway.

AAA estimates that 42 million people will be out on the road this year looking to celebrate their three-day weekend. With airport cancellations and delays becoming increasingly frequent as air travel ramps up, AAA also predicts heavier traffic than usual.

So, when is the best time to hit the road? Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst for transportation data company INRIX, told USA Today that the earlier you leave, the better, especially since the pandemic cut the morning commute significantly.

"There are not as many people commuting into work at 7:30 or 8 a.m. So the mornings are lighter, but the midday travel is as strong or a little bit stronger," Pishue said.

The Best and Worst Times to Travel
Date Worst Travel Time Best Travel Time
Thursday, June 30 2-8 p.m. Before 7 a.m.; after 8 p.m.
Friday, July 1 12-9 p.m. Before 10 a.m.; after 9p.m.
Saturday, July 2 2-4 p.m. Before 12 p.m.; after 7 p.m.
Sunday, July 3 Minimal congestion all day
Monday, July 4 Minimal congestion all day

Midday is the absolute worst time to travel, not only due to traffic but also due to a rise in car accidents and concern about heat safety on the road, Pishue added.

INRIX also predicts that certain cities will be hit worse than others when it comes to midday traffic, like New York, which is expected to have a 142 percent peak travel time increase.

Worst Corridors and Times to Travel
City Worst Corridor Worst Day Worst Time Peak Travel Time Increase
Atlanta I-85 South, Clairmont Road to MLK Jr. Drive Thursday 2:30-4:30 p.m. 134%
Boston I-93 South, Purchase Street to MA-24 Thursday 2-4 p.m. 103%
Chicago I-290 West, Morgan Street to Wolf Road Friday  2:45-4:45 p.m. 100%
Detroit I-696 West, MI-10 to I-275 Thursday 3:30-5:30 p.m. 67%
Houston I-69 North, I-610 to I-10 Friday 3:30-5:30 p.m. 92%
Los Angeles  I-5 South, Colorado Street to Florence Avenue Friday 4:15-6:15 p.m. 123%
New York Belt Parkway West, Cohancy Street to I-278 Saturday 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. 142%
San Francisco  I-80 West, Maritime Street to San Pablo Dam Road Thursday 5:45-7:45 p.m. 75%
Seattle I-5 South, WA-18 to WA-7 Friday 4-6 p.m. 138%
Washington, D.C. I-495 counterclockwise, New Hampshire Avenue to I-267 Thursday 3:15-5:15 p.m. 63%

Is there a way to beat the holiday rush completely? Sure, just leave earlier than Thursday. Travel Channel host and travel expert Oneika Raymond told USA Today, "If you really want to beat the traffic, if you want to get to where you're going quicker and with less hassle, I would recommend leaving midweek if possible."

Raymond also recommended filling up your gas tank earlier rather than later and monitoring prices as you travel to combat rising gas prices.

Article Sources
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  1. AAA Newsroom. "From Sea to Shining Sea: AAA Predicts 47.9 Million People Will Travel This July 4th." June 21, 2022.

  2. USA Today. "July Fourth weekend travel: Here are the best and worst times to leave for your road trip." June 27, 2022.