Gas Prices Ease Before 4th of July

The average price for regular gasoline is back below $3.50 a gallon, just before drivers hit the road for the 4th of July.

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AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report said Tuesday the current average is close to $3.48, down about seven cents from a week ago.

The highest prices are in Hawaii at $4.31 a gallon, while drivers in Alaska and California are also seeing higher gas prices. In the eastern half of the U.S., Connecticut and D.C. are among the top 10.

Drivers traveling this week will pay more for gas compared to last year’s holiday, as the average price is up from $3.33 a gallon.

According to the auto and travel group, 34.4 million people are expected to travel by car during the 4th of July holiday period.

AAA spokesman Michael Green said Monday the national average has been on the decline for nearly three weeks running. Gas prices had previously been on the rise as a result of regional supply disruptions in May and early June, first in the Northwest and then the Midwest.

Despite the recent reprieve, prices traditionally rise as summer demand heats up. The national average climbed 17 cents a gallon in July 2011 and 16 cents in July 2012, Green noted.

“Barring a decline in crude oil prices, gas prices may turn higher in July as the summer driving season ramps up, demand for gasoline increases and the hurricane season continues,” he said.