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Travelers Prepare for Rising Gas Prices as Fourth of July Approaches

According to AAA, more than 43 million people nationwide will be driving this holiday weekend.

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With the Fourth of July weekend fast approaching, many Bay Area residents are preparing to take to the road and when they do, they will pay for it.

Gas prices are through the roof, crossing into the $5 a gallon range in some local spots. And if that's not bad enough, people are going to be paying even more starting Thursday.

It’s a post pandemic high and San Jose resident Snowy Farcy is feeling the pain at the pump.

“I remember when I could fill up for 40 bucks. Now, it’s costing me about sixty dollars and my car was near empty,” she said.

The high prices are fueled by demand.

According to AAA, more than 43 million people nationwide will be driving this holiday weekend. That’s the second highest Independence Day travel number ever, behind only 2019.

For many traveling, the coronavirus vaccines have set them free.

“There is optimism in the vaccine. It is working and working well. There’s also a global increase in demand for crude oil as well as just the optimism that travel is coming back,” said Sergio Avila with AAA Northern California.

The average price for a gallon of regular is about $4.35 in Oakland and San Jose and even more in San Francisco. That’s about $1.20 more per gallon than this time last year.

“I wish it was a little less. So, I could drive more, especially when you go on a long trip or a road trip,” said San Jose resident Tam Nguyen.

There are even reports of gas stations actually running out of fuel, even though there’s no shortage.

"Refineries are turning out near record amounts of gas. The problem is getting truck drivers to deliver it as quickly as it is needed," said Patrick De Haan with GasBuddy.

The National Tank Truck Carriers said there’s been a shortage of drivers for years and the pandemic forced thousands of truckers to find other work. Still, travel experts said the outages will not become widespread.

"It is simply a matter of going to the next station. This will affect fewer than 1% of the nation's 150,000 stations," De Haan said.

AAA said that gas prices are expected to keep rising this summer.

In fact, gas prices are guaranteed to rise on Thursday, when California's July 1 excise tax kicks in. The good news is it’s only about half a cent per gallon.

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