Due in part to the unrest in Iraq, gas prices in the U.S. this Fourth of July weekend are the highest since 2008.
However, AAA Carolinas spokesman Tom Crosby said South Carolina’s gas prices are the lowest in the nation at an average of $3.34 a gallon, which he says is prompting a huge spike in highway travel.
“We’ve had the highest number of people planning to travel this holiday weekend in the last 13 years,” Crosby said Thursday. “We’re looking at about 480,000 people planning to drive more than 50 miles away from home, and that’s up about 10,000 to 12,000 from last year.”
Crosby said Hurricane Arthur will likely bring rain to some parts of the South Carolina coast, but that should clear out by Friday. However, North Carolina’s Outer Banks will likely feel the bunt of the storm on July 4.
Crosby pointed out that gas prices are slightly different in various parts of the state.
“Inland we’ve got Greenville that is probably going to be a little above $3.50 a gallon,” he said. “Myrtle Beach actually has some of the lowest prices at about $3.40 to $3.45 a gallon, with Charleston about the same at $3.45 a gallon.”
South Carolina’s gas prices are 21 cents higher than they were at this point last year.
Crosby implored drivers to exercise extreme caution, as traffic deaths soared in South Carolina last year over the holiday weekend.
“Last year was a pretty dangerous holiday with 10 deaths; the highest death toll in four years,” he said. “The July Fourth holiday always tends to be one of the highest traffic death holidays of the year.”
Alcohol was considered a factor in six of those traffic deaths during last year’s holiday.
The official holiday travel period begins Thursday at 6 p.m. and runs through Sunday at midnight — a total of 78 hours. The holiday travel period was 102 hours in 2013.