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Lowest Gas Prices Since October 2021, A Holiday Gift To The More Than 2 Million Marylanders

December 16th, 2022 by WCBC Radio

‘Twas nine days before Christmas and all through the state, bags were packed, batteries checked as holiday travel adventures await. AAA Mid-Atlantic estimates that more than 2.2 million Marylanders will travel 50 miles or more away from home over the end-of-year holiday travel period. The number of overall travelers is essentially flat compared to last year, with just a one percent increase.  AAA defines the year-end travel period from December 23 to January 2.

“This year, travel time will be extended due to Christmas Day and New Year’s Day falling on Sundays,” says Ragina C. Ali, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Maryland and Washington, D.C. “With hybrid work schedules, we are seeing more people take long weekends to travel because they can work remotely at their destination and be more flexible with the days they depart and return.”

Road Travel and Gas Prices

Consistent with most travel holidays, more than 90% of travelers – or more than two million Maryland travelers, will be driving to their holiday destinations. Like overall travel volume in the state, the number of road travelers is also flat compared to last year. “The good news is that drivers will definitely be seeing the cheapest gas prices of the year, with national and Maryland prices trending about 10 cents less than year ago prices,” says Ali.  In fact, gas prices nationally and locally have not been this low since October 2021. The national average on Thursday was $3.19, compared to $3.31 a year ago.  Maryland’s state-wide average was $3.22 compared to $3.32 the same time last year.

“The seasonal pattern of less driving due to shorter days, combined with lower oil costs, has been driving gas prices lower,” Ali adds. “If this trend continues, many states could see their average prices below $3 a gallon by early next year.” 

Drivers can find current gas prices along their route using the AAA TripTik Travel planner.

Best/Worst Times to Travel

INRIX, a provider of transportation analytics and insights, expects the most congested days on the road to be the Friday before Christmas, December 23, as well as December 27 and 28. Monday, January 2, is also expected to be a busy day on the roads, as travelers mix with commuters. In major metros, especially in Los Angeles and New York City, drivers could experience double the typical delays. Nationwide, drivers could see travel times up to 25% longer.  

“With pre-pandemic levels of travelers hitting the road this holiday, drivers must be prepared for delays in and around major metro areas, with Tuesday, December 27 expected to be the nation’s worst day to travel,” says Bob Pishue, transportation analyst at INRIX. “Our advice is to avoid traveling during peak commuting hours. If schedules allow, leave bright and early or after the afternoon commute.”