BOISE – Despite rising gasoline demand as more than 109 million Americans, including 593,000 Idahoans, prepare for a holiday getaway, market uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 omicron variant is tamping down the price of crude oil and causing gas prices to fall in the run-up to Christmas.
Today, Idaho’s average price for regular is $3.61 per gallon, which is a penny less than a week ago, eight cents less than a month ago and $1.39 more than a year ago. The national average currently sits at $3.30, which is two cents less than a week ago, 11 cents less than a month ago and $1.08 more than a year ago. The Gem State ranks 8th in the country for most expensive fuel.
U.S. gasoline demand recently jumped to 9.5 million barrels per day – a 5% increase in the last week – with even more demand expected over the holidays. Crude oil stocks are 14% below last year’s levels. Normally, both factors would put upward pressure on gas prices.
But uncertainty about the future demand for crude has lowered its price, along with prices at the pump.
“None of us are thrilled when we stop to fill up these days, but at least the lower prices make it possible for more families to take a holiday vacation,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde. “Depending on the impact of the omicron variant, the prices of crude oil and gas may teeter-totter through the end of the year.”
Here’s a seven-year retrospective on Christmas Day gas prices, courtesy AAA Idaho:
YEAR U.S. IDAHO
2020: $2.25 $2.22
2019: $2.55 $2.71
2018: $2.31 $2.61
2017: $2.44 $2.55
2016: $2.29 $2.26
2015: $2.00 $2.13
2014: $2.33 $2.31
Driving tips for the holidays
• Bring your emergency kit. Food, water, a first-aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries, blankets, basic tools, and flares or reflectors all come in handy during a vehicle disablement. Use a collapsible shovel, sand or kitty litter, or even a floor mat to resolve loss of traction.
• Make a plan and share it. Check the weather forecast and traffic cameras for the route you’ll be taking, then share your plans with loved ones who can act if you fail to arrive.
• Watch for ice. Be extra careful on curves, hills, shaded areas of the road, and bridges.
• Consider the skill level of drivers around you. Be patient and keep it friendly.
• Keep kids entertained. A shower caddy from the dollar store can hold meals and other items, and a cookie sheet with magnets can serve as a quick and easy drawing surface.
AAA encourages drivers to watch for emergency vehicles, including tow trucks and incident response trucks. If you approach a vehicle with flashing lights, please slow down below the speed limit and, if possible, move over one lane to provide additional space for emergency workers.
Here’s a look at other gas prices from around the state:
• Boise – $3.71
• Coeur d’Alene – $3.31
• Franklin – $3.57
• Idaho Falls – $3.50
• Lewiston – $3.36
• Pocatello – $3.65
• Twin Falls – $3.71