A record number of Tennesseans are expected to hit the road this Independence Day.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), 985,000 drivers are expected to be on the state’s roads this week. That’s nearly 5 percent more than the number of Tennesseans that traveled this time last year.
The rise state’s rise in travelers follows the national trend, as AAA estimates a record number of Americans — 41.4 million — are expected to travel by automobile this week. That’s 1.9 million more than last year.
AAA said the busiest day for driving will likely be Wednesday.
In order to make travel smoother for the nearly 1 million drivers expected to be on the state’s highways this week, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will suspend all construction-related lane closures beginning at noon on Wednesday until 6 a.m. on Monday.
“It is estimated that 985,000 motorists will travel Tennessee’s interstates and state routes this July 4th holiday,” TDOT Commissioner Clay Bright said. “To help motorists reach their destinations safely and without unnecessary delays, we are suspending lane closures during this holiday travel time.”
Still, workers could be present in construction zones where reduced speed limits will remain in effect. Speeding in work zones could result in a $250 to $500 fine, according to TDOT.
AAA attributes the increase in drivers in part to lower gas prices compared to this time last year.
Memphis’s average price for a gallon of regular gas decreased by about 17 cents from this time last year.
The average price for regular gas in Memphis as of Tuesday is $2.43 per gallon. That’s a little less than Nashville’s average of $2.48 per gallon and slightly more than Chattanooga's and Knoxville’s average prices of $2.36 and $2.39 per gallon respectively.
Across the country, gas is most expensive in California where the average price per gallon is $3.77. The country’s lowest gas prices are currently just south of Memphis in Mississippi. A gallon currently averages $2.34 there.