AAA: SC gas prices down; expected to boost Memorial Day travel

According to AAA, almost a half a million drivers will hit the roadways as early as Thursday to get started celebrating Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer.

Gas prices here in Columbia are currently down 32 cents this year from last Memorial Day, giving the Midlands the biggest year-to year gas price difference in all of the Carolinas.

According to AAA, the state average for a gallon of unleaded gas is the lowest in the nation at $3.34 cents this Memorial Day Holiday. Columbia is at least five cents lower than the state average at $3.29 a gallon.

Just a little more than a month ago, gas prices were 40 cents higher than they are right now as they edged closer and closer to $4.00 a gallon.

It's expected more than a half a million South Carolinians will travel more than 50 miles from home and that may take you into another state where gas prices will be higher.

AAA spokeswoman Cynthia Brough says there's one thing you can do that will help you get the most out of each gallon of gas. "One great way that you can save money out on the roadways is your driving behavior. You want to slow down. Driving the speed limit will actually increase your fuel efficiency," said Brough.

AAA officials say the drop in gas prices can be attributed to abundant supplies, a weak Euro, slower economic growth in China and no oil-related threats in the Mid-East.

Lower gas prices mean more people will be on the road, and AAA is already warning drivers that Monday will mark the beginning of the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers.

Seven out of 10 of the most deadly days on the roads for teens happen between Memorial Day and Labor Day. AAA says the biggest factor in those accidents is passengers in the car, so they recommend now is the time to talk to your teen about distracted driving.

While more people will be on the road, here's an interesting fact for motorists: South Carolina requires that all road and bridge construction contracts must have all lanes open over the holiday from around Noon Friday to 6 a.m. on Tuesday.

While there should be no road construction in the Palmetto State, experts advise you should expect delays as thousands of motorists will take to the roads. Pack some patience with your sunscreen and give yourself plenty of time to travel safely to your holiday destination.

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