Memorial Day

Gas Prices Increased 5 Cents Per Gallon in Last Week in Illinois, AAA Says. Here's Why

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Gas prices are rising in Illinois and in the rest of the United States as residents prepare to travel for Memorial Day.

According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of gas in the state has risen from $3.161 per gallon to $3.213 in the past seven days for regular unleaded fuel, an increase of more than five cents.

As of Tuesday, listed Illinois as having the highest average gas price in the Midwest. On Tuesday afternoon, the national average of gas was at $2.97, while Illinois stood at $3.20, according to the site.

AAA listed the current national average at $2.985 Tuesday. An increase of one more cent would make it the most expensive national average since Nov. 2014, the organization reports.

Even though the price is rising quickly, it's not the highest Illinois has seen, however. In fact, it's well below the record of $4.319 set on May 5, 2011, AAA data showed.

The current rates are highest in Chicago, according to AAA, with a current average of $3.516. The metro area follows with an average of $3.306 per gallon.

Still, according to the data, several states have higher averages than Illinois, with California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington all averaging higher rates.

AAA predicts the national gas price average will rise even higher in response to the Colonial Pipeline shutdown, which began over the weekend after the pipeline, which supplies fuel to areas in the southeast and the East Coast, fell victim to a ransomware attack.

"This shutdown will have implications on both gasoline supply and prices, but the impact will vary regionally," AAA spokesperson Jeanette McGee said in a statement.

The shutdown is expected to largely impact the East Coast, however.

Still, prices are expected to fluctuate elsewhere in the leadup to Memorial Day weekend as demand continues to increase.

AAA released its holiday forecast on Tuesday, showing that 1.8 million Illinoisans plan to travel for the holiday. That’s just under pre-pandemic levels of 2 million in 2019; 57% higher than 2020.

“Last year, gas prices were so low. Now, people are looking at the gas prices today and it feels like a sticker shock,” said Hart. “There is a likelihood that gas prices will go up a bit more.”

Gas prices are dramatically higher in 2021 compared to last year. Last May, gasoline cost $2.115 a gallon on average, according to AAA.

AAA spokesperson Molly Hart cites vaccinations and eagerness to “get out” as the main reasons for the return of travelers.

Here are some tips for conserving fuel, according to AAA:

  • Plan ahead to accomplish multiple errands in one trip, and whenever possible avoid high-traffic times of day.
  • If you own more than one car, use the most fuel-efficient model that meets the needs of any given journey.
  • Remove unnecessary and bulky items from your car. Minimize your use of roof racks and remove special carriers when not in use. It takes more fuel to accelerate a heavier car, and the reduction in fuel economy is greater for small cars than for larger models.
  • Minimize your use of air conditioning. Even at highway speeds, open windows have less effect on fuel economy than the engine power required to operate the air conditioning compressor.
  • In hot weather, park in the shade or use a windshield sunscreen to lessen heat buildup inside the car. This reduces the need for air conditioning (and thus fuel) to cool down the car.
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