Oklahomans expected to continue summer road trips

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Regular gasoline was selling for $4.57.9 a gallon on June 10 at this Shell station in northwest Oklahoma City. On Wednesday, GasBuddy reported prices were as low as $3.99 in south Oklahoma City, but AAA predicted prices will rise again as more drivers hit the road in July. (Photo by Kathryn McNutt)

The national average for a gallon of gasoline fell to $4.78 on Wednesday, down 8 cents from a month ago, AAA reported, citing lower demand at the pump over the past two weeks.

The lull, however, could end with the arrival of the summer driving season, AAA warned.

“Domestic demand for gasoline has fallen recently, which has relieved some of the pressure on prices at the pump. About 80% of stations now sell regular for less than $5 a gallon,” said AAA spokesman Andrew Gross. “But July is usually the busiest month for demand as more Americans hit the road, so this downward price trend may be short-lived.”

The story is different in Oklahoma, where the average gas price Wednesday was $4.50, up 7 cents from a month ago. It is still below the June 15 high of $4.66.

A new AAA survey indicates Oklahoma drivers are adjusting their daily driving habits and travel budgets to accommodate high gas prices, but are still planning road trips this summer.

“There is no exaggeration about the pent-up demand to travel as a result of COVID,” said Leslie Gamble, spokesperson for AAA Oklahoma. “While gas prices will discourage some, those who still want to go simply cut back elsewhere.”

Cyndy Meyer of Enid said she flew family members home to Iowa last week after recovering from a car accident in March and was amazed at how the prices vary state to state, “sometimes up to 15 cents per gallon”.

During the four weeks that her sister and father were hospitalized in Oklahoma City, she and her husband, John, traveled back and forth from Enid often. “Our credit card charges for gas were close to $2,000,” Meyer said. “Our average is around $500 a month.”

But the higher prices aren’t keeping them home. This month they will travel to Clearwater, Florida for a vacation with their children, who will be traveling from Oklahoma City and Iowa. Meyer is grateful that he bought the plane tickets last fall “before prices skyrocketed.”

She said many friends shared stories of canceled flights. The consensus is that it’s faster and less stressful to drive, she says.

The AAA poll of 639 Oklahoma drivers was conducted June 17-18 by Public Policy Polling.

Of those planning to travel this summer, 28% say they are taking fewer trips because of gas prices, 14% say they are taking shorter trips because of gas prices and 18% say they adjust their travel budget for food or accommodation because of gas. prices.

The survey shows that 71% of respondents aged 25 to 39 said they had adjusted their daily driving habits due to gasoline prices. More than 60% of them say they have canceled or not planned a summer road trip due to the high cost of fuel.

Gamble said behavioral adjustments in this age group will likely persist as long as gas remains at record highs and possibly longer.

According to a new study by WalletHub, Oklahoma ranks sixth in the nation for fuel consumption per driver and ninth for monthly cost at $222.

The study includes comments from Robert Godby, acting dean of business and professor of economics at the University of Wyoming, on why gasoline prices vary so much from state to state.

The top three reasons, Godby said, are state-specific fuel taxes, local market conditions such as pipeline constraints or refining capacity issues, and local emissions standards that may require additional additives in the fuel that make it more expensive to produce.

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