PROVIDENCE – This year’s Independence Day weekend gasoline prices were the most expensive since 2008. At $3.75 per gallon of self-serve, regular unleaded gas, Rhode Islanders are paying 15 cents more than last year, according to the weekly AAA Southern New England price survey. This is 8 cents more than the national average and 7 cents more than in Massachusetts, despite a 1 cent per-gallon drop over the last week.
Although Rhode Island has the 14th highest gas prices in the nation (second highest in New England, following Connecticut), most drivers in the United States are paying 15 to 20 cents more per gallon than a year ago, mainly because of market fear about Iraq, according to Avery Ash, AAA spokesman.
However, a rise in prices is not uncommon during the summer months because of increased demand. July is typically the second busiest month of the year in terms of miles traveled, following August. Last July, Americans drove 263.2 billion miles, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.
The national average on July 4 in previous years was $3.48 in 2013, $3.34 in 2012 and $3.57 in 2011. The prices dropped below $3 in 2009 and 2010, but were a record-high of $4.10 in 2008.
AAA does not believe that high gas prices will have a significant impact on the amount of people traveling, but it could result in cutting back on other vacation expenditures such as dining or shopping.
The price for unleaded regular gasoline in the Ocean State ranged 23 cents, from a low of $3.65 to a high of $3.88. Midgrade unleaded averaged $3.95, premium unleaded $4.05 and diesel $4.00 per gallon, respectively.
Massachusetts saw prices for self-serve, unleaded regular fall 3 cents per gallon to $3.68, 19 cents more than the average a year ago. The range for regular gas was much broader than in Rhode Island, with a low of $3.46 and a high of $3.90. Midgrade unleaded averaged $3.85 per gallon, while premium averaged $3.97 and diesel $4.01.
AAA included tips on saving money as prices continue to rise. Other tips to save money on gas include being gentle on gas and brake pedals (it can lower a car’s fuel economy by up to 33 percent), properly inflating tires and mapping out errands beforehand.