U.S. drivers paid less for gasoline in the first quarter of 2016 than at any time in the past 12 years. The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in the first quarter was $1.86.
The national average price on Thursday is $2.06 per gallon, about 36 cents per gallon less than the year-ago price. Nearly 60% of U.S. gas stations are selling a gallon of regular gasoline for under $2 a gallon, and the most common price around the country is $1.999.
Through the first quarter, U.S. drivers saved about $10 billion, according to a AAA report released Thursday. That amounts to about $45 per licensed driver. For all of 2015, Americans saved $120 billion compared with 2014, or about $565 per licensed driver.
Current gas prices are an even bigger bargain, compared with the first quarter of 2012 when a gallon of gas averaged $3.58, the highest first-quarter average ever. Compared with that quarter, Americans saved about $50 billion this year, or $240 per licensed driver.
The five states with the cheapest average gas prices are Missouri ($1.83), New Jersey ($1.84), Oklahoma ($1.85), South Carolina ($1.87) and Alabama ($1.87).
The five states with the most expensive prices are California ($2.79), Hawaii ($2.59), Nevada ($2.44), Washington ($2.29) and Alaska ($2.29).
Prices are rising nationwide, however, and are likely to continue to do so until around Memorial Day. AAA said that prices could rise another 15 to 25 cents per gallon in many parts of the country, but that even following those increases, gas will still be cheaper than in recent years.