Gas prices for the holiday weekend are lining up to be the lowest in 2-3 years. But...there are still a number of factors that could push prices higher before the holiday.

Today, the average price for gasoline in the U.S. is $2.60 per gallon. Drivers are currently paying 24 cents less than they did on Labor Day 2018 ($2.84), and 4 cents less than on Labor Day 2017 ($2.64).

Labor Day marks the end of the busy summer travel season, and the last big surge in gasoline demand before the fall. The expectation of strong demand can promote a slight and temporary bump at the pump before the holiday. However, after Labor Day, refineries begin their seasonal switch to winter-blend gasoline. Summer-blend gasoline is more expensive to produce than winter-blend, because the EPA requires more additives in the hotter months of the year. The combination of lower demand and fuel production costs typically restores downward pressure on pump prices through the end of the year.

"Labor Day travelers will benefit from lower oil prices this year as they fill up for their holiday road trip," said Nick Jarmusz, Midwest director of public affairs for AAA - The Auto Club Group. "Strong US oil production rates are holding oil prices about 15% below last year's levels, effectively reducing the price of producing gasoline. Gas prices should remain low heading into the holiday, unless something unexpected threatens fuel supplies, like geopolitical tensions or a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico."

Some tips for safe travel during the holiday weekend, from AAA-Chicago:

  • Plan ahead. Make sure your vehicle has been properly serviced. If you are unfamiliar with how to get to your destination, program your navigation ahead of time, don’t wait until you’re already on the road to program your GPS. Make sure the battery on your phone is completely charged and have a charger in case of an emergency. Have an emergency roadside kit in your vehicle.
  • Leave early. AAA encourages drivers who have the flexibility, to travel during off-peak hours. Based on prior holiday trends, we know that Friday afternoons are busy days to travel. Traffic is also expected to be heavy late Monday afternoon.
  • Be patient. Follow the rules of the road as there will be more motorists on the roadways than usual, with many in unfamiliar areas. Stay alert, be sure to have a good night’s sleep before getting behind the wheel of your vehicle. If you’re feeling drowsy, pull off to a safe location and take a nap.
  • Eliminate distractions. Avoid distractions like texting while driving or reading a text while driving. If you must respond to text or a phone call, pull off to a safe location. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of getting into a crash.
  • Buckle up: Make sure all passengers are buckled up no matter the seat they occupy in the car. This simple action can save lives should you get into a crash.


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