Memorial Day Weekend could get pricey for Southern California’s commuters, as Los Angeles County is currently seeing the highest gas prices in three years, according to experts.
Gas prices have peaked at about 3.75 a gallon on average in the Los Angeles County area in recent weeks, an average not seen in years due to low oil prices, said Marie Montgomery, spokeswoman for the Auto Club of Southern California. This is a 5 percent increase in travel compared to last year.
“Oil prices have gone back up, and we’re feeling the effects of that,” Montgomery said. “So the average today is about 70 cents higher than it was last year. That translates to an extra $10.”
Meanwhile, this Memorial Day holiday weekend is expected to be the busiest on record for the state and locally, with 5.19 million Californians and 3.21 million from Southern California expected to take trips, according to statistics from the Auto Club.
In 2005, when the previous travel record was set, 5.18 million statewide and 3.2 million Southern Californians traveled over Memorial Day.
“Consumer confidence is high, unemployment is low, and people feel they have additional money to spend,” Montgomery said about reasons for the increase.
Residents who are interested in saving money should slow down on the highways, as speeding is bad for a car’s fuel economy. One can waste as much as $5 per gallon for going 5 miles over the speed limit consistently, Montgomery said.
Proper inflation of tires can also help alleviate costs. On some 2010’s car models, MPG can also be tracked in real time. Minimizing last-minute braking, carpooling and taking items out of the trunk can also alleviate fuel waste.
California’s prices are the second highest on average in the country just behind Hawaii, whose fuel prices have been on a slight decline over the last month. The Legislature approved a statewide raise to the excise tax by $0.12 per gallon over 10 years, in 2017.
Nationally, 41.5 million Americans are expected to take Memorial Day weekend trips – a 4.8 percent increase over last year, but not quite as high as the all-time national Memorial Day travel record of 44 million set in 2005. Car travel is expected to rise by 4.7 percent to 36.6 million, while air travel is expected to rise 6.8 percent this year to 3.1 million, and other modes of travel will increase by 2.4 percent to 1.8 million.