Insurance & Technology News
Lower gas prices have travelers pumped up for the holiday
Jun 29, 2012 (The Modesto Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A sudden drop in gas prices will make it cheaper for Larry Reindl when he fuels up his speed boat for a Fourth of July celebration next week at Don Pedro Reservoir. But it won't make that much of a difference to him.
"I'm going to do what I want to do regardless of gas prices," Reindl said Thursday as he packed up some last-minute purchases from the Bait Barn store in Waterford. The Castro Valley man and his family were on their way to spend the day at Modesto Reservoir.
Like Reindl's family, millions more in California are expected to start their Fourth of July festivities early.
Since the holiday is on Wednesday this year, many travelers are planning to enjoy a six-day holiday. AAA officials say 54 percent of those surveyed will start their Fourth of July trips today, which will contribute to an unusually high number of travelers for the Fourth of July.
About 4.8 million Californians are expected to travel, a 5.2 percent increase from last year and the most Fourth of July travelers the state has had since 2003, according to AAA of Northern California.
More than 3.8 million Californians will drive to reach their Fourth of July destinations, a 4 percent increase from last year.
"As summer begins, so does the appetite for travel," said Cynthia Harris, a AAA Northern California spokeswoman. "The determination to travel, while economizing, has been the common trend over the past several years. Lower gas prices are also spurring more people to travel."
As of Thursday, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in Modesto had dropped 48 cents in the past month from $4.19 to $3.71, according to modestogasprices.com.
Even with the drop in gas prices, Dar Arbogast said a road trip to celebrate Independence Day is still too expensive. The Waterford man was recently laid off, and it costs about $85 to fill his full-size pickup's 23-
gallon gas tank.
"If things were better with cash flow, I'd probably go out to the reservoirs and do some fishing," Arbogast said as he filled up Thursday at the Bait Barn, where regular unleaded gas was $3.73 a gallon.
Nevertheless, he said, cheaper gas does offer some relief. But he thinks the price will start climbing again soon.
"It's just going to be short-lived," Arbogast said. "It's probably just a political move."
This recent drop comes after weeks of rising prices. In early May, gas was about 16 cents above the average price per gallon at the same time last year.
Western states, including California, saw their average gas prices rise as refining concerns and a tightening supply increased the retail cost, said AAA Insurance spokesman Matt Skryja earlier this month.
He said refining and supply concerns have been removed and resulted in a price decline.
J.W. Yates of Waterford said it will be cheaper this year to operate a fireworks stand in Oakdale to raise money for a group called Cowboys For Drug Free Youths. Fireworks have to be hauled to and from the stand every day, and a gasoline-powered generator is used for lights at the stand.
"It's going to make it easier," Yates said Thursday as he gassed up at the Bait Barn. "I don't think it's dropped enough, though."
A family of four on the West Coast is expected to spend an average of $807 to travel this weekend, and the average road trip will cover 684 miles.
Nationally, AAA forecasts slightly more than 42 million people will travel 50 miles or more to celebrate the Fourth of July, a 4.9 percent increase from last year.
California airports are expected to be filled with travelers this weekend, with more than 570,000 people taking flights to their holiday destinations, a 9.8 percent increase from last year, according to AAA. More than 470,000 Californians will travel by train, buses or boat, an increase of 10 percent from last year.
Law enforcement officials also will hit the roads in Northern California this weekend. They'll be looking for drunken drivers who mistakenly get behind the wheel.
Modesto police will deploy saturation patrols tonight throughout the city. The patrols are conducted by officers assigned solely to look for drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The enforcement is funded by a grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety.
The California Highway Patrol will conduct a sobriety checkpoint tonight at an undisclosed location in the Los Banos area. Officers at the checkpoint also will be looking for people driving without a valid license.
AAA's Tipsy Tow Program offers a free tow for those who've been drinking from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday in Northern California, Nevada and Utah. Members and nonmembers can call (800) 222-4357 for a tow up to 10 miles.
Just tell the AAA operator, "I need a Tipsy Tow." Service is restricted to a one-way ride for the driver and his or her vehicle to the driver's home.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2394.
___ (c)2012 The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.) Visit The Modesto Bee (Modesto,
Calif.) at www.modbee.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
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UPDATED 12:50 AM EST - May 26, 2013
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