Holiday travelers to hit a record high; deputies prepare for the 4th

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COLUMBIA - Travel for the 4th of July this year will bring a record number of drivers, facing far longer than usual trips.

The American Automobile Association is expecting up to 50 million Americans to travel nationwide, an increase of two million.

The organization said drivers could face delays up to four times normal.

AAA said July 3rd is the worst day on the roads.

Traveler Ahren Reiter said his family plan to stay aware on the roads.

"Just hoping to stay safe and travel well," he said.

Jame Chandarlis left from southern Illinois early this morning to try to get ahead of the busy day. He said traffic had not bee too bad early, but traffic was getting heavier as the day went on.

"You can tell people are getting off work here now and headed to where ever their going this weekend" Chandarlis said.

Michael Lemoins said he's seen the same thing as he finishes up a cross county motorcycle trip 

"Traffic is definitely picking up compared to what we've experienced so far and you need to be careful for sure. Everybody's traveling."

Lemoins said he only had 100 miles left of his 6700 motorcycle trip and was trying to get home before it got too bad.

Sgt. Scott White with Missouri State Highway Patrol said troopers are aware of the of the projected numbers and are prepared.

"We're going to have every trooper we can out on the highway." 

He said he knows people just want to have fun, but the MSHP needs people to do their part in staying safe. 

"Every year, especially around the holidays, we have crashes involving impaired drivers" he said.

White said, with Uber, taxi's and designated drivers, people have options to stay safe when celebrating.

"Really there's no excuse to not have a sober operator" he said. 

White said MSHP holiday hours technically don't start until 6 p.m. Wednesday and are troopers are expected to continue heavy patrolling until Sunday night.