With millions of Americans set to hit the road for the Memorial Day holiday, prices are peaking at the pump.
Drivers are set to pay the highest prices in seven years, according to AAA, following a gas shortage that impacted the East Coast when the Colonial Pipeline was temporarily shut down due to a cyberattack.
Nationally, the average price of gas as of Wednesday, May 26 hit $3.04 per gallon, down one cent from a week ago, but up from $2.89 a month ago. A year earlier, the average price was $1.96 per gallon.
According to AAA, the national average has stabilized following the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, but pump prices are likely to fluctuate leading up to the holiday weekend, which is expected to be the busiest in years as antsy Americans look to get out of the house following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“AAA expects 37 million Americans to travel, mostly by car and plane, for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. That is a 60 percent increase over last year’s holiday and a strong indication that summer travel is going to be largely popular,” AAA spokesperson Jeanette McGee said.
“With the increase in travel demand, gas prices are going to be expensive no matter where you fill up, so plan ahead.”
The number of travelers represents a 60 percent increase from last year when just 23 million people traveled over the holiday, the lowest on record since AAA began recording in 2000.
AAA says drivers should expect heavy traffic at these times:
- Thursday, May 27 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.;
- Friday, May 28 from 12 to 6 p.m.;
- Saturday, May 29 around midday;
- Sunday, May 30 around midday;
- Monday, May 31 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
AAA Northeast spokeswoman Fran Mayko added: Drivers should understand markets aren’t expected to be ‘fuel-less.’ “But road trippers may come across some gas stations with low supplies in popular destinations such as beaches, mountains, and national parks.”
Tips for travelers from AAA include:
- Make a good "BET" before hitting the road: get your battery, engine, and tires checked;
- Consider refueling when your gas tank level hits ¼ of a tank;
- Fill up before arriving at your vacation destination. Gas prices are likely to be cheaper outside of popular travel destinations;
- Do not leave home without an emergency roadside kit that includes a mobile phone and car charger, first-aid kit, blankets, drinking water, a flashlight with extra batteries, a basic toolkit, warning flares and jumper cables. Don’t forget extra snacks or meals, as well as cleaning supplies, including disinfecting wipes.
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