Falling gas prices welcome news for Fourth of July travelers looking to avoid airport delays
Oil prices have dropped this week, leading to an average gas price below $5, a welcome sight for U.S. travelers getting ready to celebrate Independence Day weekend.
According to AAA, the gas price has fallen for the second week to $4.89 per gallon, a 9-cent drop from less than a week ago. However, gasoline is still up $1.80 compared to June 2021.
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The travel association says the reason for the drop in oil price to $107 per barrel, down from $110, is not due to weather or supply chain-related issues but because of less demand.
According to AAA, fear of a global recession is leading to less demand at the pump.
"Fear is not a good reason to move a market like the one for oil, but it is a powerful motivator," AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said in a statement. "The cost of oil accounts for nearly $3 for every $4.89 at the gas pump. Consumers should find more relief when fueling up if oil prices drop further."
Earlier this month, the cost of a barrel went surpassed $120, sending the average price of a gallon of gas to $5.01, an all-time high since the AAA began collecting gas pricing data in 2000.
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How much you'll be saving on a gas tank this week depends on where you are filling up.
Florida saw the most significant drop in gas prices per gallon this week, with a decrease of 15 cents per gallon. Wisconsin and Delaware both dropped 13 cents.
Meanwhile, the south has the cheapest gas in the U.S. on average. According to AAA, the nation's least expensive places to fill up include Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, Arkansas and Alabama.
AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair said a record number of people will be driving this year compared to flying.
AAA predicts 47.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home during the July Fourth weekend.
"A record number of people are driving 42 million, and the overall number at 47.9 (million) is the second-highest all-time, trailing only 2019," Sinclair said.
The Federal Aviation Administration has blamed the surge in cancellations on staffing shortages and weather.
The Points Guy senior news editor Clint Henderson says summer weather is notorious for thunderstorms, but flight delays and cancellations so far this year is unlike any other.
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More Americans are choosing to drive rather than fly this Independence Day
The summer travel season is in full swing, and AAA says Americans heading out for the 4th of July holiday would rather drive to their destinations than book a flight.
"We are nearly back to pre-pandemic levels. I think the surge in car travel is in part due to the problems that we've been seeing with airline flight cancelations and delays," Sinclair said.
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Despite record-high gas prices, AAA says car travel over the Independence Day holiday will likely break records. The busiest travel day for Independence Day weekend will be Friday, Sinclair said.
An estimated 42 million Americans will hit the roads, while only 3.55 million (7%) will choose to fly.
This is because, according to AAA, people are concerned about recent issues with air travel like long delays and canceled flights due to staffing shortages and poor weather conditions.
AAA says the share of people traveling by air over the holiday will be the lowest since 2011.
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Sinclair recommends getting on the road before 7 a.m. or after 8 p.m. over the holiday weekend to avoid congestion.
"This weekend is going to be very busy," Sinclair said. "If you're in a major city around the country, you can anticipate that the roads will be jammed, 120, 130, 140% more than normal, so keep that in mind when you get ready to make your trip."
Before starting a trip, make sure your tires are properly inflated because that can help save engine energy and gas.