OTTUMWA — Hitting the road this weekend? You won't be alone.
The Fourth of July falls on a Thursday this year, leading many to turn the holiday into the start of a four-day weekend. The AAA auto club estimates some 40.8 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more for the holiday. Most will travel by car. But those numbers are down from last year.
The national average for gas prices fell last month. Iowa's fall from June 1 to July 1 was 40 cents, one of the biggest drops nationally.
But a holiday forecast put out by AAA suggests the fall is more important to how people think about driving than to their wallets, and many consumers still view the prices as too high.
“Rising gasoline supplies have pushed average prices nationally below the psychologically important level of $3.50 per gallon just in time for one of the busiest travel periods of the year,” said Avery Ash, AAA spokesman. “While such relatively small savings are probably not worth celebrating, millions of Americans will be relieved to save a little extra money as they travel for Independence Day.”
Despite the drop in prices, 2013 will probably see the third-highest prices ever for gas on the Fourth of July. The highest? Try $4.10 per gallon in 2008.
Prices in southeast Iowa aren't threatening any records. Ottumwa drivers paid about $3.39 per gallon on Tuesday. Prices elsewhere in the area varied by as much as 10 cents in either direction.
The biggest travel days around this holiday are likely to be July 3 and July 7.