OTTUMWA — Going to see family for Independence Day may be a tradition. It's not going to be cheap, but it can be safe.
"We’ve said that nationally we will see the highest July 4 price since 2008, " Patrick Dehaan, an analyst at GasBudy told the Courier.
That's nationally; does Iowa follow the trend?
"I expect Iowa’s state average to be about $3.60 per gallon this July 4, so yes, it will be the most expensive July 4 since 2008," he said.
A little further digging shows even in 2004, Ottumwans traveling through Iowa paid just $1.71 per gallon on July Fourth. The cost has more than doubled since then.
Just don't assume high gas prices are going to keep other motorists from clogging up the highways. Traffic jams may, at times, be worse than in the past.
"We expect the highest level of automobile travel that we've had since 2007," said Gail Weinholzer, public affairs director for AAA's Minnesota/Iowa operation.
And yes, she said, she's aware that analysts are calling for record-high gas prices. It doesn't matter, she said.
"People, when they decide to travel, won't change their plans unless prices are significantly more than they were expecting," said Weinholzer.
If it's going to cost them more at the pump, she said, "they will make adjustments in other parts of their plans. They may stay with relatives instead of getting a hotel, perhaps they don't go as far or stay as long."
This Fourth, they expect 41 million motorists to hit the road nationally. Last year, the number was 40.3 million.
"When they decide to travel, they're going to travel," said Weinholzer.
A certain percentage of those vehicles, of course, are going to break down. A local mechanic told the Courier it's not expensive or complicated to check the most basic culprits in a road-trip breakdown.