Thanksgiving gas prices headed for 5-year low

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The following is a news release from AAA Idaho.

BOISE – Idaho families face many obstacles that could interfere with their Thanksgiving travel plans this year, but expensive gas prices won’t be among them. AAA says that Gem State drivers are on track for some of the biggest savings on turkey day fill-ups since 2015.

Today, Idaho drivers are paying $2.30 for a gallon of regular fuel, which is 5 cents less than a month ago and 68 cents cheaper than a year ago. The current national average is $2.11, which is 6 cents less than a month ago and 48 cents less than a year ago. Nearly half of all states have gas price averages that are 50 to 75 cents cheaper than a year ago, including the Gem State.

“Fuel demand could rise a bit over the holiday weekend, but for most of the year, we’ve seen 50 or 60-cent discounts on the price of gasoline,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde. “Hopefully, that means more families will be able to afford a really nice Thanksgiving feast this year. After everything that’s happened, they deserve it.”

Here’s a seven-year retrospective on Thanksgiving Day gas prices:

thanksgiving gas prices

Courtesy AAA Idaho

AAA recommends following health and safety guidelines to prevent the spread of sickness. The motor association initially projected that 50 million Americans, including 266,000 Idahoans, will travel this Thanksgiving, a ten percent decrease from a year ago. But with new travel restrictions in many states, AAA now expects even fewer travelers this year. Amid the uncertainty, nearly 95 percent of travelers will choose the flexibility of a last-minute road trip.

Those who make the very personal decision to travel for the holiday should review AAA’s COVID-19 information and the AAA COVID-19 map for the latest updates and travel restrictions in the areas they’ll be visiting and passing through.

“Many of the rules have changed – on the road, at the airport, even at hotels and restaurants,” Conde said. “If you’re planning to travel, do your homework ahead of time so that you can accurately assess the risks associated with that decision, and minimize them as much as possible.”

Regardless of your mode of travel, face masks, hand sanitizers, and disinfecting wipes should be used to reduce the risk of exposure from person-to-person interactions and contact with high-touch surfaces, including hotel rooms and on airplanes. Consider using gloves or a plastic bag to touch the pump handle when you need to stop to top off your gas tank.

Holiday travelers should try to avoid rush-hour on Tuesday afternoon, when evening commuters are also sharing the road. Discuss your travel plans with loved ones who can act on your behalf if you fail to arrive on time, particularly if you’re heading into a remote area, and bring food, water, warm clothing, and other emergency kit items with you.

“Before you go, check traffic cameras and weather conditions along your route, and adjust accordingly,” Conde said. “If you find yourself on a snowy or icy road that has not been properly maintained, don’t blindly follow your GPS – turn around.”

Drivers should expect cold winter weather this week, with below-freezing temperatures in the early morning hours and at higher elevations. Snow showers are predicted for some areas, and chains or other traction control devices may be required.

AAA expects to rescue 413,000 Americans at the roadside over Thanksgiving weekend (defined as the time period from Wednesday through Sunday). Check your tires for low air pressure or worn tread before setting out on a road trip. If your battery is three years old or older, or if your vehicle is getting harder to start, stop by a trusted repair shop or auto parts store to request a quick diagnostic test. AAA members can call 1-800-AAA-HELP for more information about a battery test.

The road ahead – where gas prices are going

Earlier this year, COVID-19 restrictions pushed fuel demand to its lowest level since 1968. As states have gone back and forth in various stages of reopening, demand has followed, applying upward or downward pressure on gas prices in the process.

For the week ending November 13, demand fell to 8.2 million barrels per day, the lowest level since mid-June. Many Americans have some disposable income, and crude oil and finished gasoline stocks are abundant, but opportunities to travel for business or pleasure remain limited.

Gas prices are expected to continue to drop into the first part of next year, with an occasional change in the pattern if the number of COVID cases drops or if restrictions are eased.

“Given the current political climate, it’s challenging to predict what’s coming next,” Conde said. “But crude oil has consistently been $15 or $20 cheaper than it was last year, and there is a worldwide glut of oil and gasoline. If a vaccine is approved and distributed in the spring, it will be a big signal to the market that life is returning to normal on some level.”

See the lowest gas prices in east Idaho here.