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Gas Prices Rise Ahead of July 4th Holiday Weekend

by | July 2, 2024

Prices at the gas pump remained uncharacteristically flat through the first month of the summer season, but that’s changed with the looming Independence Day holiday weekend. The national average rose to $3.50 a gallon — up 5 cents and it may continue.AAA national gas prices map 7-2-24

Rising oil prices last week hastened the nickel-per-gallon jump in gas prices as we head into the holiday period that is expected to see more than 60 million Americans hit the road to see friends and family.

“Summer got off to a slow start last week with low gas demand,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “But with a record 60 million travelers forecast to hit the road for the July 4thholiday, that number could pop over the next ten days.  But will oil stay above $80 a barrel, or will it sag again? Stay tuned.” predicts the national average will be just 1 cent less at $3.49 per gallon and while that may feel high, it’s important to know it was cheaper than a last year by 1 cent per gallon and by $1.30 per gallon in 2022.

Additional costs

Several states began adjusting fuel taxes and fees July 1, which means more fluxuation in gas prices. For example, Indiana is increasing the tax on gasoline/gasohol by a cent to 35 cents per gallon. Virginia increased the tax on gasoline, gasohol, and alternative fuels such as CNG and LNG by a penny to nearly 31 cents per gallon.AAA gas price circle 7-2-24

However, Michigan will keep the current gas tax rate at 18.8 cents per gallon while reducing the clear diesel fuel and kerosene tax by nearly a penny to 20.4 cents per gallon.

Just know if you’re planning an out-of-state trip, the top 10 most expensive markets are California ($4.80), Hawaii ($4.71), Washington ($4.21), Oregon ($4.07), Nevada ($4.04), Alaska ($3.90), Illinois ($3.88), Michigan ($3.70), Washington DC ($3.66), and Indiana ($3.65).

If you can keep your driving route to the southeastern portion of the U.S., you’ll remain in most of the top 10 least expensive markets, which include: Mississippi ($2.91), Louisiana ($3.01), Arkansas ($3.01), Oklahoma ($3.08), Alabama ($3.09), Texas ($3.10), Kansas ($3.10), Tennessee ($3.12), Missouri ($3.12), and South Carolina ($3.21).

Travelers beware

As the lists above show, what you’ll pay depends on where you are, but you still want to make your holiday travel as inexpensive and as pleasant as possible — so be proactive, experts suggest. You can start with using apps to find the best gas prices before you head out on your trip.AAA July 4 travel graphic 2024

“For those hitting the road to celebrate Independence Day, gas prices have seen modest recent fluctuations, but most states are seeing prices near or even well below where they were a year ago,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

“While the first half of the summer has been relatively smooth sailing, the road ahead may be bumpy. Activity in the tropics has increased, and projections remain for a very busy hurricane season. Even after the holiday fireworks are over, we’ll be watching for any potential fireworks at the pump that could be brought on by hurricanes disrupting refineries.”

Transportation data experts at Inrix also note the worst times to travel by car before and on July 4 are between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Drivers should hit the road in the morning, and travelers returning on Monday, July 8 should avoid rush hour traffic in the morning and afternoon.

“Drivers in large metro areas can expect the worst traffic delays on Wednesday, July 3rd, as they leave town, and Sunday, July 7th, as they return,” said Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at Inrix. “Road trips over the holiday week could take up to 67% longer than normal. Travelers should monitor 511 services, local news stations, and traffic apps for up-to-the-minute road conditions.”


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