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For 100 million travelers, low gas prices make holidays happy

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

Florida gas prices continued their downward trend Monday, hitting a statewide average of $2.02 a gallon in time for millions of travelers to hit the road for the holidays.

The pump price has dropped by a penny from last week’s average, and 45 cents compared with the statewide average one year ago. The data, put out by AAA, shows Florida lags behind the national average of $1.99 by about 3 cents.

The group estimates lower gas prices have saved Americans more than $115 billion year-to-date, which averages out to about $550 for each licensed driver.

“Drivers across the country are celebrating the historic return of cheaper gas prices,” said AAA head Marshall Doney. “The lowest gas prices in nearly seven years are a holiday gift that few consumers could have imagined when gasoline was $4 a gallon.”

Those low prices come just in time for a holiday week AAA expects more than 100 million Americans to travel more than 50 miles, with 90 percent of those expected to drive.

Within Florida, the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater region leads with an average price of $1.94, followed by Orlando and Jacksonville at $1.95. The Fort Myers-Cape Coral, Pensacola and Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice metropolitan areas also came in with sub-$2 prices, while South Florida cities came in above the $2.10 mark. The West Palm Beach-Boca Raton region brought up the rear with an average price of $2.19.

Nationally, Missouri has the lowest average price per gallon at $1.77, followed by Oklahoma and South Carolina at $1.78.

AAA expects the low prices to hold until January, at least, though they predict a late winter surge of 50 cents or more per gallon as refineries conduct maintenance ahead of the high-demand summer driving season.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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