If you’re planning a Memorial Day weekend road trip, your wallet will be smiling on you when you go to fill up at the pump.
This summer is completely different than the normal pattern when it comes to gas prices. Under the historical pattern, gas prices would go up this time of year. But we’re at a point where the price of a barrel of oil continues going down. Gas is selling at wholesale for $2.87. Once you add in taxes and fees, the cheapest gas price in America is $3.11 in South Carolina.
As I’ve said repeatedly, we are headed this summer to a situation where stations in the cheapest states will be pricing gas at $2.XXX barring an unexpected event with Iran or North Korea. Our supply of oil is great. We’re in great shape if you want to take a summer road trip, except in a spot like California that has unique supply issues.
Meanwhile, when you’re at the pump, at rare stations you may see E15 fuel (85 percent gasoline and 15 percent ethanol) for flex-fuel vehicles. It will be cheaper per gallon, but it is a lot less efficient as a fuel.
There’s a big fight behind the scenes over ethanol in gasoline. The oil companies and auto makers are in a donnybrook with farmers over a federal requirement that we move to E15. I have a 50 cc scooter, and when I didn’t ride it much during the winter, the thing croaked because of the ethanol content left sitting in the tank.
On a serious note, as we move into prime motorcycle riding season, motorcycle deaths have gone up and up. We’re closing in on motorcycle deaths accounting for 15% of all road fatalities. Helmet laws are an issue to be sure. It is your personal choice in more and more states where you decide if you want to wear a helmet. But the reality is the fatality rates go up when the law is repealed.
Florida saw an 80% uptick in motorcycle deaths and Louisiana saw a 110% increase when helmets were no longer made mandatory. If you’re a motorcyclist, I want you to consider wearing that helmet — even if it’s not required in your state.