With gas prices falling at the fastest rate since January, look for more people on the road during the upcoming Labor Day holiday.
“We should continue to see gas prices falling right now because of crude oil prices,” said Mark Jenkins with AAASouth in Tampa.
Self-serve regular averages $2.51 per gallon across Florida. In Pensacola, the average is $2.48 – down nine cents from a month ago and $0.87 a gallon less than early August, 2014.
Oil prices dropped sharply in July on oversupply concerns for the second year in a row. West Texas Intermediate crude, for example, has dropped to below $48 per barrel since late June. Domestic oil supplies are also about 25% more abundant than a year ago, according to the auto club.
A growing economy and continued lower prices at the pump this summer has meant more cars on the road – 275 billion miles driven in May, according to the Federal Highway Administration. And Jenkins says the trend has continued into the summer.
“Independence Day was the most automobile travelers for an Independence Day on record,” said Jenkins. “I would expect that trend to continue; if not the highest automobile travel for Labor Day, there’s a very good chance it could be one of the highest.”
Low gas prices tend to influence people to hit the road for vacation, instead of the most costly flight to their destination. Another stimulus for travel during August and Labor Day is that it’s the traditional last chance for an outing before school begins.
If all goes as AAA is projecting, Jenkins predicts those prices will continue to fall beyond Labor Day if lower oil prices and demand slip even further.
“We could see gas prices heading back down to levels they were at, at the beginning of the year, which was the two-dollar mark” Jenkins said. “There are some factors that could prevent that, of course. If oil prices suddenly rise, if there’s a hurricane that moves into the Gulf Coast that could cause any kind of outages.”
Another, lesser-known factor for continuing price drops is that gas stations in many parts of the country will be switching over to less expensive winter blend fuel beginning in mid-September.