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New Year's Day Brings Record High Gas Prices, AAA Reports

Experts suggest that despite the record high on Jan. 1, average prices in 2014 may be slightly lower than 2013.

Credit: dormont-brookline.patch.com
Credit: dormont-brookline.patch.com
The year 2014 is starting out as a record-setter; unfortunately we're talking about high prices at the gas pump. 

AAA Mid-Atlantic is reporting that this will be the fifth consecutive Jan. 1 that Americans have paid more at the pump than the prior year and the fourth straight year with a new record to start the year. 

The national average prices to begin 2011, 2012 and 2013 were $3.07, $3.28 and $3.29 respectively, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. 

But don't swear off the car just yet; experts don't expect the Jan. 1 trend to last the entire year.

“Despite the recent run of record high starts on the first day of the year, gas prices in 2013 averaged less than 2012 and prices in 2014 are expected to be slightly lower than this year, barring any unforeseen market moving news,” Ragina Cooper-Averella, public and government affairs manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said in a statement.  

Where does Maryland fit into the national picture?

Today’s national average price at the pump is $3.32 per gallon. This is six cents more expensive than one week ago, five cents more than one month ago and three cents more than the same date last year, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.  After falling on 19 of 22 days, the national average has now increased for 12 straight days. 

Maryland’s average is $3.46 per gallon, which is four cents more than week and month ago prices.  It is 14 cents higher than the national average.

In 2011, Maryland mirrored the national average at $3.07 per gallon. In 2012 the national average was $3.28 while Maryland stayed slightly lower at $3.26 per gallon. In 2013, the national average for a gallon of gas was $3.29 and Maryland's averaged jumped up to $3.38. 

But, AAA Mid-Atlantic says that Marylanders are not alone in feeling the pain at the pump. Motorists in every state are paying more at the pump than one week ago, and those in four states have experienced more than 20-cent jumps during the same span.  This includes increases of 22 cents in Minnesota, 24 cents in Indiana, 27 cents in Michigan and 28 cents in Ohio, which have been keyed by refinery issues in that region.  

The least expensive average gas prices in the nation are in Montana ($3.01), Oklahoma ($3.04) and Missouri ($3.06), while the most expensive are in Hawaii ($3.94), Connecticut ($3.70) and New York ($3.69), according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.

Higher crude oil prices have contributed to rising retail gas prices, AAA said. 

What can you do to reduce fuel costs? Here are some tips from AAA Mid-Atlantic:

  • Check tire pressure with a gauge regularly.  Under-inflated tires are a safety hazard and can reduce fuel economy by as much as 2 percent per pound of pressure below the recommended level.
  • Change the oil regularly as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. 
  • Check and replace air filters.  Clogged filters can cause an increase in fuel consumption.
  • Don’t overload your vehicle.  Increased weight in your vehicle can reduce your MPG.
  • Drive responsibly.  According to The U.S. Department of Energy, aggressive driving wastes gas and can lower your gas mileage by as much as 33 percent on highways and five percent around town. 

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