As fuel demand rises alongside coronavirus vaccination rates, American motorists will face the highest gasoline prices in seven years when they hit the roads this Memorial Day weekend, the customary start of the summer driving season.
According to data from the American Automobile Association, average retail gasoline prices in the United States are at $3.04 a gallon, the highest since 2014.
After a year of lockdowns to combat the coronavirus epidemic, the prices are likely to hit tens of millions of American road-trippers: According to AAA, upwards of 34 million Americans are anticipated to hit the roadways between May 27 and May 31, up 53% from last year but still down 10% from 2019.
“Ahead of Memorial Day, gas demand is expected to rise as more Americans take to the roads for trips that may have been delayed or avoided because of the pandemic,” said Devin Gladden, AAA spokesperson.
According to Energy Information Administration statistics, gasoline consumption in the United States is at 9.48 million barrels per day, the highest level since March 2020, when US officials began imposing broad travel restrictions.
Pump prices had already risen earlier this month following a ransomware assault on Colonial Pipeline, the nation’s largest gasoline pipeline, which shut down the system for days and prevented gasoline supplies from traveling across the country.
Fearing a lengthier outage, motorists rushed to gas stations to fill up their tanks, emptying more than 16,000 stations in areas such as North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia at one time.
According to the tracking business GasBuddy, some 6,000 gas stations were still lacking gasoline this week.
“This is still due to the Colonial outage recovery, plus high demand, making it hard for stations to get back on top of things,” said GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan.