Gas prices up as Georgians hit the road for the holiday

Gas prices tend to go up in the summer.

Your bags are packed, your reservations made. Now there’s just one more item to be checked off your holiday travel to-do list: Set aside a little extra cash for gasoline.

Gas prices are up in Georgia and across the country as Americans prepare to hit the road for the Independence Day holiday. The average price for regular unleaded in Georgia is $2.54 a gallon — 10 cents more than last week — AAA said Monday. The average price nationwide is $2.71 — up 5 cents from the week before.

The price hike may not deter many travelers. AAA predicts a record 48.9 million Americans will travel during this week’s holiday — including nearly 1.5 million Georgia travelers. And GasBuddy expects a big summer travel season.

“Gas prices remain well under $3,” said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis. “That’s sort of the key metric that people gauge. Do gas prices start with a 2, 3 or 4?”

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A recent GasBuddy survey found nearly 75% of Americans said they will take a road trip this summer — up 16 percentage points from last year.

Respondents also expected to travel farther from home and spend more time away. Some 42% of respondents planned to drive more than 500 miles round trip, and 7% expected to be gone more than a week.

DeHaan said travel likely is picking up because of a strong economy and wage gains. And despite the recent spike, gas prices remain lower than in recent summers — 16 cents lower than last year, according to AAA.

At $2.54 a gallon, it will cost $38.10 to fill a 15-gallon tank.

“Even if gas prices were a little bit higher, I’m not sure that people would slow down,” DeHaan said.

AAA says several factors contributed to this week’s gas price increase. Rising tensions between the United States and Iran, a fire at a Philadelphia refinery and optimism over the possibility of a U.S.-China trade deal all played a role.

“A major factor driving the increase includes the upcoming Independence Day holiday, which is expected to be a high-demand travel period,” AAA spokeswoman Montrae Waiters said. An estimated 41.1 million Americans will travel by car over the holiday.

The auto club found Atlanta has the highest average gas price in Georgia, at $2.59 a gallon for regular unleaded. The cheapest gas was found in the Catoosa-Dade-Walker area in the state’s northwest corner, at $2.40.

If you're planning to drive, traffic will be better at some times than others. AAA says the worst time to travel in metro Atlanta during the holiday will be 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, the day after Independence Day.

Some good news for motorists: The Georgia Department of Transportation will suspend construction-related lane closures for the holiday on interstate highways, heavily traveled state routes, and roads near major tourist and recreation areas. The suspension will last from noon Wednesday through 10 p.m. Sunday.

Georgia gas prices

AAA reported Monday that Georgia gas prices rose ahead of the Independence Day holiday. Here’s a look at recent trends in the price of regular unleaded gasoline:

Sunday: $2.54 a gallon

Saturday: $2.53

Week ago: $2.44

Month ago: $2.60

Year ago: $2.70

All-time high: $4.16 (September 2008)