An estimated 113 million Americans are expected to travel for Christmas and New Year’s according to AAA – with 102 million going by car. And they’ll have a bit more jingle in their pockets this year.
Gas prices for self-serve regular in Florida are on the decline again, after a three cent per gallon jump last week. Mark Jenkins at AAA South in Tampa says Florida drivers have been on a roller-coaster at the pump this year.
“[Gas prices] hit the high of about $2.92; now they’re back down to about $2.29 on average here in Florida,” says Jenkins. “Kind of a pretty steady decline for the past two months, which has been great. And that largely is due to shifts in the price of oil.”
Self-serve regular also averages $2.29 in the Pensacola area; the national average is $2.37. OPEC recently announced a four percent cut in production, but with U.S. production surging the past few years, the cartel appears to be losing some clout.
“Ultimately, I think that OPEC certainly has some concerns about losing market share, with the United States adding more and more output,” Jenkins says. “If they try to reduce production, I think that – because the United States is coming on as such a strong producer – news from OPEC about production cuts is losing some of its weight.”
The prices in Florida could drop another dime a gallon before year’s end. Compared to last summer, more than five million drivers in the state this holiday season are expected to save about $7.50 per fill-up.
“Almost two weeks out from the New Year, anything can happen in the oil market; but I think that right now there’s a chance that oil prices could even dip below $50 a barrel,” said Jenkins. “But there’s [also] a good chance that they could pick right back up again at the start of the New Year when production cuts go into effect.”
The most expensive gas is in Panama City at $2.63 a gallon. Part of the reason for that to a certain degree, says Jenkins, is the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.
“I know that they had some issues at their ports; some electrical issues at one of their gasoline terminals, some of the other issues that tend to occur after a hurricane,” said Jenkins. Oftentimes transportation issues with road closures, gas station outages, retailers having to find alternative ways of getting their fuel.”
Elsewhere, Miami-Dade is at $2.47 per gallon, and a penny lower in West Palm Beach-Boca Raton. The cheapest gas – relatively speaking – is $2.17 in The Villages and $2.20 in both Orlando and Jacksonville.
And before you hit the road, AAA South says it’s a good idea to make sure your wheels can get you there and back.
“The last thing you want to do is set out on a 300 to 500 mile trip not knowing if your tires are properly inflated; of the belts under the hood are getting ready to go, or anything like that,” Jenkins says. “Having a good bumper-to-bumper checkup can ensure that that you’re checking – and catching – any potential problems before you hit the road.”
And, if you party too hearty this holiday season, AAA is back with its “Tow-2-Go” program to get you – and your ride – home safely.
“All you have to do is call 1-(855)-2TOW2GO – (855)-286-9246,” says Jenkins. “We’ll dispatch a tow truck out to where you are; take you and your vehicle home free of charge. The best thing about this program is that you don’t have to be a AAA member to use it.”
More information on gas prices – local, state and nationwide – vehicle maintenance, and TOW-2-GO is available at www.GasPrices.AAA.com. It can also be found on the AAA Mobile app.