If you're hitting the road for the long Memorial Day holiday, you'll have lots of company.
AAA is predicting the strongest kick-off to the summer travel season since 2005, and the second-largest travel volume on record dating back to 2000.
Overall, AAA says nearly 43 million Americans will celebrate the unofficial start of summer away from home.
For the 37.6 million Americans that AAA says will travel by automobile during some part of the Memorial Day weekend, today, May 24, is not your travel friend. Neither is Friday, May 25.
AAA predicts most drivers will experience the greatest amount of congestion in the late afternoons of Thursday and Friday leading to the three-day weekend. The main reason is that millions of commuters will share the roads with travelers looking to get a head start on the holiday.
And those who go on holiday come home. Beware and be aware of similarly congested roads on Sunday, May 25, and Monday, May 27, as folks return from the traditional start of summer.
Gas prices no problem: The packed roads expected this coming weekend are despite a slightly higher national gas price average this year.
It's been inching toward the $3 per gallon mark, with $2.86 per gallon reported as of May 14.
That's relatively on par with last year's pump prices ($2.87 on May 14, 2018), which is probably why the 88 percent of Memorial Day 2019 travelers plan to drive to their long weekend destinations. That's the most on record, according to AAA.
“When gas prices are expensive, travelers may shorten the distance of a road trip, eat out less or look for free activities,” said AAA gas price expert Jeanette Casselano. “But, overall, prices are very similar to this time last year and, like then, they aren’t letting that deter them from taking summer road trips.”
Taxes effects on gas prices: Part of the price of fuel, gasoline for most of us auto owners, includes federal and state excise taxes.
The federal gasoline excise tax has been holding at 18.40 cents per gallon (CPG) for more than a quarter century.
State gas taxes, however, have risen steadily, according to American Petroleum Institute (API) data. The average state gas tax increased from 21 cents per gallon in 1994 to 34 cents per gallon today, which includes excise taxes and other taxes and fees on gasoline.
The CPG tax amounts shown on the map below are the combined local, state and federal tax rates or fees as of April 1.
Here in Texas, for example, our 38.4 CPG total gas tax is the combined 18.4 CPG federal rate and the Lone Star State's 20 CPG tax.
Pennsylvania's nation leading $77.10 CPG total gas tax comes from the federal tax plus $58.70 CPG in other Keystone State taxes and fees.
You can see the breakout of each state's gas tax at another API map, this one being interactive to show you the tax details.
Increases across the country: Much of the state fuel tax increase has come since 2013.
Beginning six years ago, 31 states and the District of Colombia have enacted legislation to increase their state motor fuel taxes.
So far in 2019, Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio and Virginia have enacted gas tax increases. Virginia's tax hike, however, only applies to a portion of the state along Interstate 81 to pay for a specific project.
In keeping with the theme of road travel, below are two more gas tax maps showing recent increases.
The first is a funky hexagonal map from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The other is a more traditional display from MultiState Associates.
Wherever your Memorial Day road trip takes you, I hope you find good pump prices and that your journey is a safe one.
You also might find these items of interest:
- When did your state adopt its gasoline tax?
- Trump taking truckers' call for increased gas tax to heart
- Federal gas tax increase gaining support, but political potholes remain