Drivers Saved Billions on Gas Last Year; '15 Could Be Huge

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Oil Plunge Below 50
Tony Dejak/APRegular gas is advertised for $1.94 a gallon at a gas station in Cleveland.
By Brian O'Connell

NEW YORK -- The price of gasoline fell below $2 a gallon last week in two states, Missouri and Oklahoma. That's the first time gas has fallen that low since 2009.

The price has declined overall by $1.06 in the past 95 days, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report, and by $1.38 a gallon since June.

The price decline in oil (at $51 a barrel) and gasoline this week has been a savings bonanza for drivers. According to AAA:
  • The current national average for a gallon of gasoline is $2.28, giving consumers savings of 11 cents a gallon compared with a week earlier, and 49 cents a gallon in the past 30 days compared with the month before. American drivers also saved $1.02 from Jan. 1, 2014, to Thursday.
  • Drivers saved $14 billion last year compared with 2013, according to AAA. Compared with 2012, consumers saved $22 billion.
  • On a per-household basis, Americans saved $115 each from lower gas prices in 2014.
"U.S. drivers ended the year on a high-note with gas prices plummeting over the last few months," AAA spokesman Avery Ash says. "Cheaper gas prices have helped to improve the economy by boosting both consumer confidence and disposable income."

The high point for gasoline prices last year was April 28, when the national average stood at $3.70 a gallon; the lowest point was Dec. 31, when the average gallon of gas hit $2.26.

On a geographic basis, it really paid to drive in the South, with South Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas all ranking among the year's lowest average gasoline prices. Hawaii had the highest average ($4.16, compared with $3.34 in South Carolina), with California, Connecticut and New York drivers also seeing higher prices than the rest of the country.

AAA expects gas prices to remain relatively low this year, although there are no guarantees. This year promises to provide "much bigger savings to consumers as long as crude oil remains relatively cheap," Ash says. "It would not be surprising for U.S. consumers to save $50 billion to $75 billion on gasoline in 2015 if prices remain low."
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