RICHMOND, Va. -- This Memorial Day weekend, AAA is predicting 970,000 Virginians will hit the roads despite record-high gas prices.
"They're going to be the busiest roads that people have seen probably since the pandemic began," explained Morgan Dean, AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesperson.
Friday morning, the average price of gas in the country was $4.60 per gallon, and in Virginia the average price was $4.45.
"That's another record high, and $1.50 more than what we were paying this time a year ago," said Dean. "So drivers are feeling that pain at the pump."
Dean also noted we have seen some fluctuations with price swings over the past few weeks, with 10 or 11 cent jumps overnight.
That’s not typical. Dean said we used to only see price jumps like that due to storms like hurricanes, which would shut down oil production.
"The market is volatile right now," Dean explained.
AAA believes there are three major reasons for these high prices at the pump. Demand is up due to the summer travel season beginning, more people are flying than we saw during the pandemic and crude oil prices were already rising before the Russian invasion of Ukraine — but now they’ve really taken off.
The big question on everyone's mind is will these prices continue to climb?
"Everybody's saying how high are prices going to go, and have we peaked yet," noted Dean. "There are too many factors out there, and it's really, really hard to say. I think for people really wondering where they're going to go, watch the price for crude oil, West Texas Intermediate, and then seeing what kind of demand we're looking at at the pumps."
Also, if you're planning to travel for Memorial Day, AAA wants to remind you to check your vehicle to make sure everything is running smoothly.
- check your tire pressure
- listen to and feel your brakes
- secure and test your battery
- top off your engine oil and other fluids
- replace your windshield wiper blades and cleaner
- check belts and hoses
- test your AC
You should also replenish your emergency kit in your vehicle.
That emergency kit should include a flashlight and extra fresh batteries, first-aid supplies, drinking water, snacks for people and pets, jumper cables and a basic tool kit.
"Put that together before you hit the road," said Dean. "It doesn't have to be anything huge. You can put it all together in a small tub back in the corner and have it there. It's peace of mind in the back of the vehicle."