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Low gas prices put more holiday travelers on the roads

By Hugh Fisher

hugh.fisher@salisburypost.com

Gasoline prices are at their lowest point in seven years, and that’s encouraging more drivers to hit the highways.

As rain fell across Rowan County on Wednesday, some travelers were surely fueling up for a Yuletide journey.

“I think there are a few more people out on the roads this year than in recent years,” said Linda King, who works at the Rushco BP station at 1518 E. Innes St., Salisbury.

King said she’s been a cashier at the station for almost 11 years.

“This year, with gas down from where it was last Christmas, I think people prefer to drive instead of fly,” King said.

She’s right, according to a report from AAA Carolinas that says over 2.9 million North Carolinians will travel 50 miles or more for the 12-day Christmas and New Year’s holiday period this year.

That’s an increase of 41,000 over last year, according to AAA Carolinas.

Low gas prices are one reason why. Last year, the average price of unleaded in North Carolina was about $2.40 per gallon, according to price tracking site Gasbuddy.com.

This week, the North Carolina average is $1.97 per gallon, according to AAA Carolinas, while the nationwide average price for a gallon of regular gasoline Monday fell to $1.99 — below $2 for the first time since March 2009.

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

AAA said gas prices have dropped because there is more than enough oil and gasoline supply around the world to meet demand. In addition, gas prices generally fall through early winter because people drive less and use less fuel this time of year.

And prices are trending slightly lower than average in most parts of Rowan County.

A drive around Salisbury during the 3 o’clock hour Wednesday afternoon saw gas prices averaging $1.88 per gallon for regular unleaded.

The lowest price seen in Salisbury on Wednesday was $1.85 and nine-tenths per gallon for regular gas at the Speedway station at 500 E. Innes St.

Those prices fluctuate depending on where you drive around the county.

According to Gasbuddy.com, regular unleaded was spotted at $2.01 in Cleveland, $1.89 in Rockwell, $1.87 in Spencer and $1.88 in China Grove.

If you’re driving south, you’ll find gas for $1.82 a gallon in Kannapolis and Concord, according to Gasbuddy.com. And Charlotte Costco members were getting gas for $1.63 per gallon, the website reported.

Tribune News Service contributed to this report.

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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