Fourth of July traffic: Omaha drivers advised to watch for big rigs

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 3:21 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha residents planning to get away for the Fourth of July should expect a lot of company on roadways, because AAA predicts more than 43 million people nationwide to travel the highways for the weekend.

A lot of those drivers will be sitting behind the steering wheels of big, semi-trailer trucks, hauling goods across the country.

Crystal Cummings is on her way to Vegas. She’s noticed more trucks on the highway as she heads her way west. “When I get a sandwich and stuff, I get a little bit nervous,” she said.

Officials in the trucking industry say the growing number of trucks on the roads is necessary. They say about 50% of Nebraska communities receive everything they need by truck traffic alone. During holidays, truck traffic might actually increase.

“When a holiday weekend rolls around, everybody needs more stuff,” said Kent Grisham, president and CEO of the Nebraska Trucking Association. “Everybody needs more supplies and groceries and everything, well, that means that it’s got to be more trucks.”

Grisham said the trucking industry is still working on inventory shortages and it will take a lot of trucks moving a lot of products to catch up.

“They’re calling it the ‘restocking and recovery’ phase that we’re still in, with the supply chain disruptions that we saw during the pandemic,” he said. “In addition, we’re also seeing factories reopening, businesses reopening, so the demand is even peaking beyond that.”

Patricia Menninger is a holiday traveler. She said that “there was dirt and everything on the highway that kid of freaked me out, because then, every time you see a truck, you’re kind of like, ' Oh lord,” she said, laughing.

Grisham urged drivers not to tailgate the big rigs or cut them off.

“Well, image a blind spot on a vehicle that’s 65 feet long and weighs 80,000 pounds,” he said. “If you can’t see that driver’s mirrors, he can’t see you.”

Grisham also said drivers shouldn’t expect the extra truck traffic to end when the holiday weekend does.

“Some of the data that I’ve seen recently, probably two-thirds or more of the trucking companies are expecting these increases to continue for the foreseeable future,” he said.

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