The Rising Cost of the Great American Road Trip
Thinking about taking the great American road trip this summer? Be prepared to pay more at the pump as gas prices slowly make a slow but steady upward climb.
According to a recent study by AAA, gasoline prices are expected to jump by more than 40 cents this summer, topping out at a national average of about $2.70 per gallon. This number reflects an increase of 70 cents per gallon over the same period last year.
“Higher gas prices are already influencing the travel industry,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president of Travel and Publishing. “The good news is people are still planning to hit the road. With nearly 80 percent of family travelers planning a road trip this year, higher gas prices are making shorter trips to national parks and theme parks the most desired travel destinations.”
Gas prices have already hit their highest levels this year since January. Across the nation, average gas prices reached $2.33 last week, a four cent increase over the week prior, a one cent increase over last month and an increase of 27 cents over last year. (But still considerably less than 2014, when prices topped out at more than $3.50 per gallon.)
If you’re living in the Western United States, home to six of the most expensive states for gasoline, you’re probably eyeing this year’s national average with envy.
In Hawaii, the nation’s most expensive market, gas averaged $3.05 per gallon last week. California, which clocks in at number two, sported average rates of $2.98 per gallon. Also helping drive up the national average were Washington ($2.86), Alaska ($2.78), Oregon ($2.72) and Nevada ($2.66.)
AAA warns that supply will “tighten” and prices will likely escalate even more in California and the Northwest due to maintenance at several refineries, including BP’s Cherry Point refinery in Ferndale, Washington, and PBF Energy’s refinery in Torrance, California.
If the rising price of gas has you considering putting off that scenic drive along the coast highway, better not wait too long. Starting on November 1, the state of California will give Hawaii a run for its money, when implements a new tax that increases prices by 12 cents a gallon.
The new tax is expected to generate $52 billion in new revenue for the state, which says it plans to use the funds for road repairs and improvements. The increased tax will likely also hit consumers with higher food prices if California’s booming agricultural industry decides to pass along the increases.
California isn’t the only state shoring up revenues with new gas taxes.
In January, Forbes reported that seven states have recently enacted higher gas taxes, including Pennsylvania (+7.9 cents per gallon), New Jersey (+23 cents per gallon), Michigan (+7.3 cents per gallon) and Nebraska (1.5 cents per gallon.) Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida also saw a minor increase of less than one cent per gallon.
If your heart is set on a summer road trip, think about visiting South Carolina ($2.04), Tennessee ($2.08), Mississippi ($2.08), Alabama ($2.09), Oklahoma ($2.10), Arkansas ($2.10), Missouri ($2.11), Louisiana ($2.12), Virginia ($2.13) or Texas ($2.15), which offer the best gas deals in the nation.
For current information on gas pricing, visit newsroom.aaa.com/tag/gas-prices/