Drive with reckless abandon this holiday weekend, Americans! Er…wait…don’t drive recklessly, but feel free to carefully motor around the country at will, because gas prices this Memorial Day are hitting a six-year low. The EIA reports:
The U.S. average retail price for gasoline was $2.24 per gallon (gal) on May 23, 50 cents per gallon (cents/gal) lower than at the same time last year, and the lowest average price just before Memorial Day weekend (the start of the summer driving season) since 2009. Lower gasoline prices reflect lower crude oil prices, with the spot price of North Sea Brent crude $19 per barrel (b) lower than at the same time last year…EIA’s May Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) forecasts the U.S. monthly gasoline price to average $2.21/gal during the 2016 summer driving season (April through September), 42 cents/gal lower than the average 2015 summer driving season gasoline price. EIA projects the U.S. regular gasoline retail price to average $2.08/gal in 2016 and $2.24/gal in 2017.
Cheap oil prices are the obvious culprit for the discount drivers are seeing at the pump, and Americans have already been taking full advantage. Travel rose 4.2 percent over the first three months of the year to an all-time record 746 billion miles, according to the Department of Transportation. And, as the EIA explains, this weekend might near a high water mark for miles driven, too:
AAA, in association with IHS, Inc., expects more than 38 million people to travel this weekend, the second highest on record and the most Memorial Day travelers since 2005. Most Memorial Day weekend travel will be in vehicles, about 89% of the total. Compared to the previous Memorial Day weekend, travel by vehicle is expected to increase more than other forms of travel.
When people wonder what kinds of effects cheap crude has on them, specifically, this is the first thing to point to. This helps hundreds of millions of people in the U.S., and cheap gas prices are expected to stick around through next year. And, because burgeoning production from upstart shale producers was the prime driver behind the oversupply that led to the collapse in oil prices, we can thank fracking for all those dollars saved at the pump this weekend. Hail shale (and drive safe)!