AAA: Gas prices packing punch for motorists heading toward Memorial Day

gas pricesLocal drivers are getting pinched at the pump as gas prices continue their climb. In Virginia, most regional prices are about 50 cents higher than they were at this time last year.

Prior to the announcement of the U.S. withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal, gas prices were expected to continue to rise ahead of Memorial Day, but reinstated sanctions on Iran could mean gas prices will continue climbing deep into the summer driving season.

Today’s national gas price average is $2.87, which is up six cents in the last week, up 17 cents in the last month and 53 cents higher than this time last year.

“With Memorial Day weekend less than two weeks away, drivers will likely face pump prices at their highest level since 2014,” said Tammy Arnette, senior public affairs specialist for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “As the summer driving season gets underway, AAA believes local prices will continue to increase, however it may be weeks before motorists see the full effects of the U.S. pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Agreement and reimposing sanctions.”

At the close of NYMEX trading Friday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $70.70 per barrel, up 28 cents from the previous week.  WTI hit new multi-year highs this week, closing above the $70 threshold four days this week ($20 more than one year ago).  The U.S. decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and reinstate sanctions against Iran could constrain global oil supplies, which could further drive up crude and gasoline prices.

Reinstated sanctions on Iran could mean gas prices will continue climbing into the summer driving season.  The Energy Information Administration (EIA) noted in its Short Term Energy Outlook that it expects gas prices to average $2.90 per gallon, up from the average of $2.41 last summer.  For 2018, EIA expects U.S. regular gasoline retail prices to average $2.79 per gallon. Monthly average gasoline prices are forecast to reach a summer peak of $2.97 per gallon in June, before falling to $2.86 per gallon in September.

As drivers brace for a more expensive Memorial Day road trip and summer driving season, AAA offers tips to save on gas. Actions include using gradual acceleration, following speed limits, inflating tires properly and replacing air filters on a regular basis. One myth to saving on gas was to turn off the vehicle’s air conditioning but that is no longer the case because today’s systems operate much more efficiently and don’t drag as much on the engine.

AAA has a variety of resources to help motorists save on fuel

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