BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – More and more Alabamians are hitting the roadways this summer, and according to StreetLight Data, there has been a 6% increase in vehicle miles traveled a day compared to last year. While the number is still less than several southern states, experts see this increase as a sign of things getting back to normal.
“People that are ready are going,” travel agent Christen Perry said.
“We are seeing a lot of cars on the road so far this summer,” AAA spokesperson Clay Ingram said.
Ingram says they have seen a boom in beach travel in 2021, since many couldn’t go in 2020.
“A lot of people didn’t get to go to the beach last year. So, there is pent up demand just for the beaches,” Ingram said.
He also says state and national parks in Alabama and throughout the country are seeing increased foot traffic, too.
“The state parks, the national parks are also setting records for visitors this year,” Ingram said.
But many people are traveling for other reasons as well, such as baseball tournaments in other states. Janet Hobbs of Hartselle says her family passed through the Birmingham area on their way to Oxford for her grandson’s tournament. She says traffic was okay on the way down, but says the weekend traffic this summer has been crazy.
“And last weekend it was just crammed pack,” Hobbs said.
Perry says not only are roadways busy, so is the hospitality industry. She says places like Orange Beach are book solid for a while, and it isn’t cheap either.
“Everywhere. It’s just limited availability right now,” Perry said.
“Next year, the year after. We already booking travel for 2022 for people,” Ingram said.
Although people aren’t used to the traffic at the moment, Hobbs says it’s nice to look forward to travel again.
“You know, it’s just out a couple of days and that’s all were going to be gone for the weekend. So, for us it’s vacation,” Hobbs said.
And as people continue to travel, she hopes everyone stays safe on the road.
“You know that we need to watch not only ourselves, but the other fella, too,” Hobbs said.
The average gas price in Alabama is $2.79 per gallon according to AAA, which is normal for this time of year. They are expecting more and more travel to increase throughout the summer.