DEARBORN, MI, (August 29, 2018) – Labor Day is traditionally the third-most traveled holiday of the summer travel season. Based on estimated travel trend history, relatively stable gas prices and improving economic indicators, over one million Michiganders are expected to be traveling over the Labor Day weekend. With a majority of those travelers more than likely to be hitting Michigan roads and highways, AAA is issuing a statewide CALL FOR CAUTION along with BACK TO BASICS traffic safety tips for travelers.
According to 2017 Labor Day Traffic Safety Statistics from Michigan State Police, traffic fatalities increased from 2016 to 2017:
- 27% of the fatalities were reported as alcohol-involved.
- 20% of the fatalities involved a motorcyclist or ORV.
- Over 66% of the motorcyclists killed in these crashes were not wearing a helmet
Considering these risk factors, AAA’s statewide CALL FOR CAUTION urges Michigan motorists to follow these tips:
AAA Back to Basics Traffic Safety Tips
- Buckle Up
- Ditch the Driving Distractions
- Drive Safe and Sober
- Obey Speed Limits
- Wear a Helmet when Riding Motorcycles/ATVs/Bicycles
“Labor Day is the traditional “last hurrah” before the new school year begins, summer winds down and everyone shifts back into the regular work-day routine. Relatively stable gas prices combined with a favorable weather forecast offer the perfect formula to make the most of this final summer holiday in the Great Lake State.” said Susan Hiltz, Michigan public affairs director for AAA – The Auto Club. “AAA’s call for caution and back to basics traffic safety tips are part of our ongoing effort to help keep Michigan motorists safe.”
Labor Day Gas Prices Expected To Be Higher Than Last Year
Michigan motorists can expect to find higher Labor Day gas prices this year compared to last year.
- As of Aug 28th, Michigan’s average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is about $2.91
- That’s about 4 cents higher than last week at this time
- That’s about 45 cents higher than last year at this time.
- Michigan’s average price for a gallon of regular gas on Labor Day 2017 was $2.62
- That’s about 29 cents higher than the $2.91 average on Aug 28, 2018
Additional Factors That Affect Gas Prices
- Demand for gas during the Labor Day holiday period has a history of increasing with Michiganders hitting the road for a final summer time road trip.
- Demand for gas after the Labor Day holiday period has a history of decreasing as a majority of motorists return to a more normal pattern of driving, children return to school and vacation driving decreases.
- The price of gas typically drops when the switch over starts from summer-blend to winter-blend gas.
AAA Fall Forecast: Gas Prices to Average 25¢ per gallon Less than Summer
AAA forecasts the national average price at the pump will drop to $2.70 or below this fall. That is 14-cents per gallon less than Tuesday’s average price and more than a quarter cheaper than this year’s record high of $2.97 set in May.
“Labor Day signals the end of the summer travel season and the beginning of an autumn trend that normally leads to lower gas prices,” said Susan Hiltz, Michigan public affairs director, AAA – The Auto Club Group . “In September, gasoline demand drops and refiners switch to a cheaper-to-produce winter-blend fuel, putting downward pressure on prices at the pump. However, several outliers can reverse this forecast, including crude oil price hikes, geopolitical tensions and the threat of a hurricane.”
2017 Year-to-Date Avg
2018 Year-to-Date Avg
What Will Push Pump Prices Down this fall?
Part of the anticipated drop in fall pump prices is due to the switchover to winter-blend gasoline in mid-September. The difference between summer- and winter-blend gasolines involves the Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of the fuel. RVP is a measure of how easily the fuel evaporates at a given temperature. The more volatile a gasoline (higher RVP), the easier it evaporates. Winter-blend fuel, which is cheaper to produce, has a higher RVP because the fuel must be able to evaporate at low temperatures for the engine to operate properly, especially when the engine is cold.
The arrival of fall historically means a drop in consumer gasoline demand as fewer Americans take extended road trips, compared to the summer.
What Could Prevent Cheaper Gas Prices?
- Crude Market Volatility: Much of 2018 has brought volatility to the domestic and global crude markets, as market watchers try to glean insight into forces that will shape global supply this fall. These forces include:
- Venezuela is a major crude producer for the Western Hemisphere, but its collapsing economy could halt its crude production.
- Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced an increase in production over the summer, but slower-than-expected production growth could contribute to higher crude prices during the second half of the year.
- Geopolitical uncertainty in the Middle East and around the globe could disrupt vital crude flows.
- Iran Sanctions: When President Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal in May, the decision sent the crude markets into upheaval. In August, the first round of re-imposed sanctions on the country, which target Iran’s financial sector, went into effect and led to a brief uptick in crude prices. The next round of sanctions, currently scheduled to take effect in November, will target Iran’s energy sector – including its crude exports – and will likely have a more sustained impact on crude prices. If and when those sanctions take effect, crude prices will likely surge over an expected reduction in Iranian crude exports and increased tension in the region that could destabilize global crude flows.
- Updated Hurricane Forecast: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center predicts a total of 9–13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or greater of which 4-7 will become hurricanes) including up to two major hurricanes (winds of 111 mph or greater). An average six-month hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six becomes hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. The mere threat of a hurricane in the U.S. would cause pump prices to spike, likely regionally, due to constrained supply and delivery challenges.
AAA 2018 Gas Watcher’s Guide
In time for fall, AAA is releasing the 2018 Gas Watcher’s Guide with tips for conserving fuel, saving money and maintaining fuel efficiency. The Guide offers these tips – and many more - for motorists to keep in mind as they fill-up at the pump:
- If your vehicle’s engine does not require premium or mid-grade fuel, don’t buy it. Using anything other than regular grade is simply a waste of money.
- Don’t top off your gas tank. Stop filling after the automatic nozzle shuts off the second time.
- If you have to replace a gas cap, make sure it is the right one for your car. An ill-fitting cap will increase emissions and trigger the “check engine” light.
- Keep track of gas mileage. If you notice a sudden decrease in fuel economy, have your vehicle checked by a technician to ensure it is operating properly.
Motorists can find current gas prices at GasPrices.AAA.com and along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
In support of law enforcement agencies across the state and country, AAA reminds drivers that the annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Overenforcement and education campaign to encourage safe and sober driving is in effect until September 3rd .
Get Road Trip Ready
AAA recommends motorists inspect their vehicle and check the condition of their battery and tires BEFORE heading out. Nothing puts a damper on a trip more than unforeseen vehicle problems. Members can download the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com or call 1-800-AAA-HELP to request roadside assistance when needed.
AAA Digital Travel Planning Resources
- eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones, available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks.
- Free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android uses GPS navigation to help travelers map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
- On AAA.com, travelers can find thousands of AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel.