Gas prices down, travel up as Labor Day weekend begins - WNCN: News, Weather

Gas prices down, travel up as Labor Day weekend begins

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Look for busy roads, and lower gas prices, this weekend as North Carolinians enjoy the Labor Day weekend.

According to AAA Carolinas, an expected 1,011,718 North Carolina residents will travel more than 50 miles from home. That's a 1.5 percent increase from last year, AAA Carolinas said. The organization said 86 percent of those travelers will be driving.

It's the highest number of estimated travelers in six years.

The organization said gas prices in the Tar Heel state have dropped fallen 22 cents a gallon since July 4 to a state-wide average of $3.34 per gallon.

“The continued downward trend in gas prices is good news for motorists and it's one of the big reasons travelers are heading out for a final road trip during the last holiday of the summer, as children head back to school,” said Dave Parsons, CEO and president of AAA Carolinas.

The most expensive gas in the state is in Asheville at $3.50, AAA Carolinas said, and the least expensive is in the Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point area at $3.31.

If you are traveling out of state, you may want to wait until you cross the state line to buy gas. South Carolina has the lowest average gas price in the country, AAA Carolinas said, at $3.14 a gallon.

Also cheaper than North Carolina are Virginia ($3.19), Tennessee ($3.20) and Georgia ($3.32). State taxes are a major factor – according to GasBuddy.com, North Carolina's tax of 37.5 cents per gallon

Only New York (42.4 cents), Pennsylvania (40.7 cents) and California (39.5 cents) have higher tax rates on a gallon of gas than North Carolina.

North Carolinians, however, benefit from good roads, and 75 percent of the motor fuel tax goes to the state Highway Fund. The other 25 percent goes to the Highway Trust Fund, which addresses urban loops in large cities and the intrastate system.

North Carolina gasoline prices are 11 cents lower this year than in 2013, AAA Carolinas said, and prices that year were down 25 cents a gallon from 2012, when Hurricane Isaac caused prices to rise.

The group expects stable gas prices going forward.

“Unrest in the Middle East is not expected to push gas prices higher as analysts have assessed the potential for a disruption of oil supply to be limited,” said Parsons.

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