Gas prices at record Labor Day highs

Despite a hurricane that helped drive gas prices to record Labor Day highs, more people are expected to hit the roads this holiday weekend.

They just might spend less money when they get where they’re going, says AAA Auto Club.

The average price Thursday for regular gasoline in the metro Macon area was $3.75 per gallon, up from $3.49 a year ago, the motor club said.

“Unfortunately it does look like gas prices will continue to increase throughout the Labor Day weekend,” said AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady. “And this is going to be the most that motorists have paid for gas during the Labor Day holidays than at any other time.”

AAA predicted that 33 million people will travel 50 miles or more this holiday weekend, up from 32.1 million last Labor Day. That forecast, however, came before Hurricane Isaac, which shut down oil production in the Gulf of Mexico and has caused flooding in Louisiana and other parts of the South. Aside from some “regional issues,” Isaac should have little impact on travel, Brady said.

“We still forecast travel to be pretty robust. We do expect people to follow through on their travel plans, despite the high gas prices. What we may see is people spending less once they get to their destinations on things like shopping, entertainment, dining out, to compensate for the higher gas prices.”

Macon area motorists have watched gas prices soar by more than 20 cents in the past week and 40 cents the past month. Brady said relief could be in sight.

“Maybe after Labor Day, once Gulf oil production is back up and running, we will start to see prices drop a bit. I think it’s very likely will we, considering oil prices are down, but it may just take some time.”

To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.