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Gas prices drop slightly, but still over 50 cents more than last year

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - According to AAA, gas priced have dropped four cents nationally since the beginning of June, but are still 58 cents more expensive than a year ago.

Some experts estimate that, by the end of the summer, the average driver will spend an additional $250 or $300 more than they did a year ago.

So, despite the slight drop, some North Carolina drivers said they aren’t really seeing it at the pump just yet.

"They’re probably 50 cents more than I was paying last year this time,” said driver Todd Humphries who is frustrated by high gas prices. “I hear oil prices have gone down, but they haven’t come to the consumer yet.”

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Gas prices are based on the world price of crude oil. Those who follow the industry said demand is increasing here and in other countries.

“We’ve got a rising economy and people are driving a lot more,” said Michael Whatley, the Executive Vice President of the Consumer Energy Alliance. “We’re also seeing China and India continuing to move their economies forward, and so there’s more overseas demand as well.”

The Consumer Energy Alliance said the U.S. has doubled its oil output in the last decade. That reduction on the dependency of foreign oil has helped insulate the U.S. from major price spikes.

“The price shocks we expected have not been anywhere near as bad as they would be if we hadn’t had a lot more production in the U.S.,” Whatley said.

Even so, he said his organization believes more still needs to be done to make the country more energy independent.

“President Trump has made a concerted effort to try and open up the offshore in the Atlantic and expand offshore access,” he said.

Besides fretting about the price at the pump, there are things that can be done to reduce gas consumption:

  • Get regular tune-ups — they can boost mileage by 4 percent
  • Keep tires properly inflated — under-inflation reduces mileage
  • Lighten your load in trunk — unnecessary items add extra weight which reduces mileage
  • Consolidate your trips — a single trip uses less gas than multiple trips

The U.S. Department of Energy offers more advice on cutting your fuel consumption.

Airfares are among travel expenses affected by high oil prices because it makes jet fuel cost more. Right now, Whatley said, that’s forcing more consumers to the roads.

“We have a lot more people driving this summer instead of flying,” Whatley said. “The number of people taking trips across the country for the holiday season for driving will be record.”

Currently, prices for regular gasoline in North Carolina are under $3 a gallon. Whatley believes they pretty much stabilized here for the summer.

Whatley said, with the exception of a few tweaks up or down, the price now for regular in N.C. should remain about the same until Labor Day unless something drastic happens to affect the world market for oil.

GasBuddy can be used to find prices in your area.

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