Massive amounts of traffic as 4th of July weekend begins

BAY AREA, Calif. (KTVU) - A 4th of July on a Saturday means a three day weekend for many and an early start to the holiday.

For highway officials and law enforcement, it also means more traffic, more crashes, more drunk driving and more death.

A public service announcement from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration spells out the DUI danger.

Some drivers told KTVU they would not be venturing onto the freeways over the holiday.

"Well I have to work Friday, and then I'm staying close to home where it's safe," declared one woman sitting in Thursday evening gridlock on Highway 37 in Marin County.

"This traffic is horrible, horrible," exclaimed another driver through his car window," I've moved about two miles in 40 minutes.”

Across the Bay Area, highways were gridlocked with getaway traffic, a rush hour that started early and lasted long past normal commute time.

"What should have taken about an hour took more than three hours," traveler Brent Humphrey told KTVU, as he stopped for gas in Cordelia, in Solano County.

Humphrey, his wife, and daughter were towing a 27 foot Airstream trailer from their home in San Jose to a campground in the Sierra.

"I'm okay with the traffic," smiled Humphrey, "we're having fun with it and just taking our time."

"We knew it would take us awhile," chimed in Katie Humphrey, " so we're taking a break now, and having some food to eat on the way."

The couple said having a three day weekend was the extra nudge to hit the road.

"We're just able to take a little more time and enjoy and get a little farther from the Bay Area than we would normally go," explained Brent.

The American Automobile Association says with employment strong and gas prices lower than last year, 4.8 million Californians are traveling for the holiday.

"3.8 million of those will be traveling by car, which is always the preferred mode of transportation," elaborated Cynthia Harris of AAA, "and these are the highest numbers we've seen since 2007."

"It's basically a big party and fishing, " traveler Gordon Webber told KTVU, describing his 4th of July tradition, as he drove from his home in Orangevale, Sacramento County to Dillon Beach in Sonoma County, towing his fishing boat.

"We're going to go salmon, halibut, and shark fishing, and maybe some cod too," Webber enthused, " it's a fishing fourth, a great reason to fish and celebrate. "