The AAA reports that 81 million Americans will hit the roads between December 23 and January 3. The figure will drop 25% compared to last year, the organization forecasts. However, the amount of gasoline consumed will be much higher than in a normal week. In some states, that will not matter as much as in others. The average price of regular gas in these places is well below the national average, with prices lower than $2 a gallon.
Gas prices have surged ahead of the holidays, the AAA also reports. In the past week, it has risen six cents to an average of $2.22 nationwide. One reason is the rise in crude prices. Another apparently is news that a vaccine has started to be distributed, although very few Americans will have it for several months. Jeanette Casselano McGee, AAA spokesperson, commented: “The recent gas price pump jumps are a bit surprising given December demand numbers are the lowest posted for the month since 1999.”
According to the national gas research firm GasBuddy, nine states will have gas prices below $2 per gallon. They are Mississippi ($1.89), Louisiana ($1.90), Oklahoma ($1.91), Texas ($1.93), Arkansas ($1.94), Missouri ($1.97), Alabama ($1.99), South Carolina ($1.99) and Tennessee ($1.99).
These states have gas prices below the national average for several reasons. One is their proximity to the huge refineries that sit on the Gulf of Mexico coast just southeast of Houston. The price to transport gas is one thing that determines the cost. This brings down the price particularly in Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Another cause of low gas prices in some of these states is more permanent. Gas taxes in most states on the list are well below the national average of $0.5453 a gallon. The figure is $0.3840 in Texas and Oklahoma, $0.3841 in Louisiana, $0.3719 in Mississippi and $0.3582 in Missouri.
It is difficult to say whether low gas prices have contributed to the number of people who will travel over the holidays. There are no substantial studies that would answer that question. However, people who look at their holiday travel expenses in these parts of the country will see they save a bit compared with the balance of the United States.