BOISE, Idaho — Falling gas prices are certainly putting Idahoans in the holiday spirit, according to the Idaho AAA.
Gem State prices have dropped eighteen cents since the beginning of December –- a welcome savings for the many families planning a road trip in the coming days.
Experts say a record 116 million Americans will travel fifty miles or more from home for the holidays this year -- and 614,000 Idahoans will be among them, according to new projections by AAA. “That’s four million more than last year, and many of them will be on the road,” said Idaho AAA spokesman Matt Conde.
“Gas prices didn’t drop in October and mid-November as we would normally expect, partly because demand remained high and regional refineries had extra downtime with maintenance issues,” said Conde. “But lately, there has been a nice course correction. Refineries are back up to a 96 percent utilization rate, and gasoline stocks in the region are slowly building -- both of which help to keep prices down. Although there may be a slowdown right before Christmas, we believe this trend will continue through the rest of the year.”
Today, the U.S. average price for regular is $2.55, which is a nickel cheaper than a month ago, but eighteen cents higher than a year ago. In Idaho, the current average price is $2.77, which is 22 cents cheaper than a month ago and five cents more expensive than a year ago.
“Normally, the busiest travel days are the 22nd and 23rd of December but, this year, the travel volume may get started a little sooner,” Conde explained. “People who have the 23rd and 24th off will start leaving town as soon as Friday afternoon. Traffic congestion could really pick up Friday, as some travelers try to get an early jump on their vacation during the evening commute.”
Sunday, December 22nd and Monday, December 23rd are still projected to be the busiest days at the airport. No matter when they fly, travelers should arrive earlier than usual to get through security lines at the airport.
(photo courtesy: Idaho Transportation Dept.)