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Fourth of July weekend travel in Ohio: What you need to know

Of the more than two million Ohioans that plan to travel this weekend, 95% of them will drive to their destinations.

CLEVELAND — Summer is in full swing and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), the Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP), and the AAA are preparing for a busy time on the state's roadways during the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. 

Of the more than two million Ohioans that plan to travel this weekend, 95% of them will drive to their destinations. INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts the heaviest congestion will be during the late afternoon on Thursday, Friday and Monday.

So what do you need to know before you head out on the roads? We've put together a guide to help!

Gas Prices

For the first time in seven years, gas prices in Ohio are averaging around $3 per gallon.

As of Wednesday, the average cost for a gallon of gasoline in the Buckeye State is $3.043. Cuyahoga County is still below the $3 mark at $2.953, while Summit County stands at $2.88

"The pinch that people are feeling right now at the pump is the result of crude oil prices, especially because crude oil is more than 50 cents of every dollar you spend at the pump," Jim Garrity with AAA's East Central division told 3News' Lindsay Buckingham this week.

Despite the prices, Garrity says Ohioans are still traveling.

"We're looking at a near-record-breaking amount of people that are going to be hitting the road: Almost 44 million across the country, [and] a record amount of Ohioans," Garrity said". These gas prices aren't deterring them."

Click here for AAA's list of current gas prices nationwide, statewide, and countywide.

Road Construction

ODOT reports that it is working on more than 1,000 construction projects across the state this summer. While efforts have been made to reduce the size of work zones as much as possible to accommodate the increased holiday traffic, it isn’t possible to remove all the orange barrels. ODOT is reminding holiday travelers this year that work zones require extra attention from drivers and work zone speed limits are reduced for the safety of both workers and motorists.

According to ODOT Press Secretary Matt Bruning, one of the spots in Ohio where you are likely to encounter orange barrels this weekend is in the Akron area. 

Visit OHGO.com to see real-time traffic conditions, more than 800 live traffic cameras, and construction project locations.

Watch: Get a preview of this weekend on Ohio's roads with ODOT's Matt Bruning in the player below

Stay Sober and Buckle Up!

As part of the national Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and Operation CARE enforcement campaigns, the Ohio State Highway Patrol focus will be removing impaired drivers from the roadways and ensuring all drivers are buckled up. Last year in Ohio, 24 fatal crashes killed 25 people during the July Fourth holiday weekend. Of those fatalities, 18 involved impaired driving and ten were not wearing an available safety belt. During the holiday weekend, troopers will be highly visible and urging motorists to drive carefully and follow all traffic laws.

“By making smart decisions, drivers can help avoid the tragedies that follow driving impaired,” said Governor Mike DeWine in a statement. “Make this a safe holiday for everyone by planning a sober ride home.”

Motorists are encouraged to call #677 to report impaired drivers, drug activity or stranded motorists.

Watch: OSHP Sgt. Nathan Dennis has more on the preparations for the July 4 weekend on Ohio's highways.

Airport issues

If you'll be flying this holiday weekend, don't expect much of a change in airport madness.

"The planes were really packed," Mike McKenna said.

The rise in flyer demand is nothing short of the frustrating reality for everyone on the flip side: A shortage in both airline staff and flights.

"It's going to put a lot of stress on a system that really has not been able to lay the infrastructure necessarily to maximize the folks coming back," Dr. Andrew R. Thomas, associate professor of international business at the University of Akron and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Transportation Security, said. "The second half our summer, up until Labor Day, is really going to be tough sailing."

Airlines suggest always checking the status of your flight before heading to the airport. TSA told 3News said about 86% of the Cleveland Hopkins Airport volume is back.

You can keep an eye on security wait times online before heading to the airport at clevelandairport.com.

Weather Conditions

According to the 3News Weather team, our 4th of July weekend looks to have more comfortable humidity and limited rain chances. We'll likely see lots of sunshine both Saturday and Sunday (the 4th) with stray shower chances mainly during the afternoon Saturday as a system glides by to our east. Highs will remain in the 70s Saturday but return to the low and mid 80s Sunday with humidity to follow on Monday.

SATURDAY: Sun with a few clouds. Upper 70s.

SUNDAY (JULY 4TH): Sun with a few clouds. Warmer. Low to mid 80s.

MONDAY: Hot and humid with partly cloudy skies. Upper 80s.

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