The forecast for motorists hitting the road to celebrate the July 4 holiday is bleak. They will be feeling more pinched than last year, shelling out an average of $2.90 per gallon, the highest Independence Day prices since 2014, when the national average hit $3.66 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.
Making holiday travel sourer this year is that a price jump is looming, according to the forecast. After five-straight weeks of prices dropping, gas prices are likely to increase again ahead of July 4 as oil prices surged to $73 per barrel on June 27, the highest since 2014. The State Department ordered buyers to curb their oil purchases from Iran by November. In addition, OPEC’s smaller than expected oil production increase last week fueled speculation that global inventories will continue to drop, and a government report showed U.S. oil inventories dropped 3 times as much as expected as total petroleum exports from the U.S. hit a new record high.
The difference may not seem significant given that current gas prices are below the peak of $2.98 per gallon hit in May, but over the first four days of July, gas purchases will cost motorists $1.02 billion more than last year. Even with high gas prices, however, most motorists aren’t likely to curtail their travel during the most popular summer holiday, due to its appeal and rich tradition celebrating the nation’s birthday.
The top fear of travelers is overpaying for gasoline, according to GasBuddy’s 2018 Summer Travel Survey. For motorists traveling out of state, GasBuddy urges motorists to check prices before crossing a state line. “Crossing a line can be exciting and fun during summer road trips, until drivers realize that they left cheaper gas prices in the dust. Instead, motorists should mind the state line and find the best side to fill up on,” Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a prepared statement. “In some extreme cases, we’ve seen consumers spend an extra $25 on a single tank when refueling on the wrong side of the line.”
- Gas Prices: Cindy Uken