PhotoMore consumers will take to the nation's highways over the Independence Day holiday period, and when they do they'll find gas prices lower than they were last year.

Nationwide, the AAA Fuel Gauge Survey shows the average price of self-serve regular is $2.24 a gallon, down four cents from last week and five cents less than this time a year ago.

The national average price of premium gas is $2.79 a gallon, in line with where it was a year ago. The price of diesel, at an average of $2.44 a gallon, is actually seven cents higher than a year ago.

Cheaper than 50 years ago

To put today's gasoline price in perspective, the national average gasoline price in 1967, 50 years ago, was 33 cents a gallon. Yes, that sounds cheap, but adjusted for inflation, that's the equivalent of $2.45 today. So today's gas price is actually cheaper than it was 50 years ago.

Travelers in the Western states will continue to pay the most for gasoline, but even in California, the statewide average price of regular gas is back below the $3 a gallon mark. The California price of regular is down 16 cents a gallon in the last month.

The cheapest gas is still found in the Southeast. Five states today have average prices of regular gas below the $2 a gallon mark, led by South Carolina with an average price of $1.91 a gallon.

AAA attributes the favorable fuel environment to record refinery rates, high gasoline and crude inventory, and slightly lower demand this year. At the same time, Wall Street's hopes for rising oil prices are fading.

The price of oil has not been able to remain north of $50 a barrel for any length of time before American shale producers increase supplies to the point that the price falls again.

Dangerous day

While there is good news for motorists when it comes to gasoline, a study by Geotab -- a GPS vehicle tracking company -- provides some sobering commentary. It says July 4th is officially the most dangerous day of the year to drive in the U.S.

After analyzing the fatality and traffic data over a 10-year period, it was able to break down traffic deaths by day. Dates around holidays where alcohol consumption is prevalent have a significantly higher Fatal Crash Rate (FCR) than other days in the year.

Of those national celebrations, July 4th has an average of 119 deadly crashes over a 10-year period and a Fatal Crash Rate of 14.9, giving it the dubious distinction of being the most dangerous day to be on the road.


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