Spring break got gas prices moving. Florida prices climbed four cents in two days and Palm Beach County pumps dispensed the state’s costliest go juice, averaging $2.65 a gallon.
The statewide average of $2.53 on Sunday is 26 cents more than this time last year, according to AAA The Auto Club Group.
“Demand in the southeast — especially in Florida— is strong, as Americans hit the road for spring break,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins on Monday.
Crude oil prices remained steady but gasoline supplies contracted as refineries switched between seasonal blends, he said. After prices fell early last week, they picked up by Thursday and Friday, officials said.
The market including West Palm Beach and Boca Raton led the way, followed by Naples ($2.59), and Miami ($2.58).
To keep things in perspective, Florida’s average on Sunday was a penny lower than the national average and well under the highest price on record, $4.08 on July 17, 2008.
Do you buy premium gasoline when you don’t need to? Some motorists think it might help their vehicle’s performance, even if it isn’t required.
AAA released new research Tuesday that shows paying-up for premium –91/93 octane vs. 87 octane for regular — may not be worth the extra money, unless your vehicle absolutely requires it.
“Sometimes consumers think they are giving their vehicle a boost by buying a higher-grade gasoline than what is required,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “AAA already proved that there is no benefit to using premium gasoline in cars designed to run on regular. Now we can confidently say that unless the vehicle manufacturer requires it, or you drive in demanding conditions, motorists who buy premium are wasting money at the pump.”
Some motorists may consider the additional torque and horsepower to be worth the extra money. Individual drivers – particularly if their driving style can be described as “spirited” – may find an improvement in vehicle driving performance for off-the-line acceleration, highway passing, hill-climbing when loaded with luggage, or towing a trailer; and may determine that their personal driving benefits from the use of premium gasoline.
While some vehicles are designed to run on premium octane gasoline, others simply recommend it. So AAA set out to determine the effects of using premium gasoline in vehicles that recommend it, and whether the benefits in fuel economy and horsepower are worth the higher price at the pump.
The Price of Premium
On average, this year in Florida, there has been a 20-25 percent (57 cent) price gap between regular and premium octane fuel ($2.37 vs. $2.94)
On Monday, the state average price for a gallon of regular was $2.41 vs. $3.00 for premium. (Click here to view today’s averages)
In Palm Beach County on Tuesday, regular averaged $2.53, while premium was $3.15.
Putting Premium Fuel to the Test
AAA tested a variety of vehicles that recommend, but do not require the use of premium (91 octane or higher) gasoline.
A series of tests were conducted to determine whether the use of premium gasoline resulted in:
Improved fuel economy
Increased performance (horsepower)
Although AAA has already proven that these vehicles are unlikely to see any benefit from using premium gasoline during typical city or highway driving, a combination of laboratory and on-road tests were performed to simulate extreme driving scenarios such as:
Test vehicles included: Ford Mustang GT, Jeep Renegade, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Cadillac Escalade ESV, Audi A-3, and the Ford F150 XLT
Most vehicles showed a modest improvement in fuel economy and performance.
Fuel economy for test vehicles averaged a 2.7 percent improvement. Individual vehicle test result averages ranged from a decrease of 1 percent (2016 Audi A3) to an improvement of 7.1 percent (2016 Cadillac Escalade).
Horsepower for test vehicles averaged an increase of 1.4 percent. Individual vehicle test result averages ranged from a decrease of 0.3 percent (2016 Jeep Renegade) to an improvement of 3.2 percent (2017 Ford Mustang).
Premium gasoline costs 20-25% more than regular.
The fuel economy improvements recorded during AAA testing do not offset the potential extra cost to purchase premium gasoline.
Last year, nearly 1.5 million new vehicles sold in the United States recommend, but do not require, premium gasoline.
The trend toward recommending or requiring higher-octane fuel continues to rise as manufacturers work toward meeting stringent CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) standards.
“By offering a choice, automakers can market modest gains in fuel economy and performance, and car buyers are less likely to hesitate about buying the vehicle, because their operating costs will be lower,” Jenkins continued. “Unfortunately, by only recommending premium fuel, the engine cannot be calibrated to take full advantage of the higher octane, because it also needs to perform adequately with lower octane (regular) fuel. Therefore, the fuel economy and performance gains are only minor.”
Drivers of vehicles that require premium gasoline should always use it.
For those vehicles that do not recommend or require premium gasoline, AAA suggests drivers opt for the lower priced, regular fuel.
Any vehicle that makes a “pinging” or “knocking” sound while using regular gasoline should be evaluated by a AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility and likely switched to a higher-octane fuel.
AAA urges drivers who use premium gasoline to shop around for the best price, as it could vary dramatically between gas stations in any given city.
The AAA Mobile app, is a free tool to help drivers identify the least expensive premium gasoline near them.
Higher Octane Does Not Mean “Higher Quality”
AAA found no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that only requires regular-grade fuel.
In a study released last year, AAA found that consumers wasted nearly $2.1 billion dollars fueling vehicles with higher-octane gasoline.
Drivers seeking a higher quality fuel for their vehicle should consider using one that meets Top Tier standards. Previous AAA research found it to keep engines up to 19 times cleaner.
The study noted the difference in fuel quality was dependent on the various detergent packages in gasoline, which vary by retail brand.
Gasoline prices are low, but could be headed back up soon.
The estimated 37.5 million Americans who hit the road on Independence Day found the lowest gas prices in more than a decade, according to AAA, whose data is collected from credit card swipes and direct feeds from 120,000 gas stations nationwide, in cooperation with OPIS and Wright Express.
“Unfortunately the pump price plunge may soon come to an end,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “We are entering a six-week period where demand is normally the strongest of the year. Plus, oil and wholesale prices made solid gains last week, reaching a level that should cause gas prices to level off. Motorists in some markets may see pump prices climb 5-10 cents in the next week or two as a result.”
Palm Beach County’s average for a gallon of regular stood at $2.26 Wednesday, down just fractions of a cent from Tuesday, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report.
The cheapest gasoline is at $1.95 a gallon for regular at Rocket Fuel, 100 N. Federal Highway, North Palm Beach. The next lowest price is $1.97 at 7-Eleven, 1220 Federal Highway, Lake Park, as reported on GasBuddy.com
About 10 Palm Beach County stations are selling gasoline at $1.99 Wednesday. To search in your area, go to GasBuddy.com
Although the national average of $2.23 was the lowest for the holiday in 12 years, gas prices in the southeastern U.S. were the lowest in 13 years. On July 4 gas prices averaged $2.15 in Florida – 9 cents less than a year ago a year ago, and the lowest price for the holiday since 2004.
Florida’s dailygas price averages are the lowest since November 2016. The state average declined for the 31st consecutive day on Tuesday, for a total of 23 cents since June 3.
The oil market has steadily climbed during the past week after EIA data showed domestic oil production lowered by about 100,000 barrels per day, for the week ending on June 23. Moreover, last week Baker Hughes Inc. reported that for the first time in 24 weeks, the U.S. oil rig count declined by two – bringing the total rig count to 756. Neither of these declines are considered dramatic, but the sudden shift in fundamentals was enough to send oil prices higher. Market watchers will look to today’s EIA data report to see if this trend continues, in hopes it will steer prices higher.
The price of crude rose for the 10th consecutive day Monday, settling at $47.07 per barrel. Crude prices are up $4.54 since reaching this year’s lowest daily settlement of $42.53 on June 21.
No gas station in Palm Beach County has reached the $2 per gallon price point consumers love yet, as of Monday morning, based on prices reported to GasBuddy.com. However, it could happen any day now at a handful of stations as gasoline prices continue to plummet.
At least a dozen stations were offering regular gasoline for $2.02 a gallon Monday, with Rocket Fuel, 100 N. Federal Highway, North Palm Beach, standing alone at $2.01 a gallon, to GasBuddy.
There could also be a lingering “Wawa effect” in some areas.
Gasoline prices continue to fall across the country, as well in Florida’s highest-priced fuel market, Palm Beach County. The county’s average fell to $2.30 Monday from $2.36 a week ago, AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report shows.
Florida’s average is $2.20 a gallon, down from $2.26 a week ago, and elsewhere in the state, motorists are finding $2 a gallon gasoline, AAA said.
Even with the Fourth of July travel period beginning this weekend, Florida’s average has been falling for 23 consecutive days.
“It’s amazing we’re staring at some of the cheapest prices of the year as the holiday comes into view,” Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, said.
“As motorists pack their cars in preparation for the July 4 holiday, gasoline prices continue their widespread drop, falling in all but five states over the last week, as retail prices play catch up to the falling price of crude oil,” DeHaan said.
“Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois saw prices rise slightly due only to the fact that gas prices had fallen so significantly that stations in those areas were selling under their cost, prompting an adjustment. For the rest of the country, the downward momentum has continued and may do so again this week, so long as there’s no sudden reversal in the price of crude oil,” DeHaan said.
As the summer travel season began earlier this month, gas prices are averaging the lowest in 12 years, AAA said.
AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said, “Oil prices moved even lower last week, dragging gas prices down with them. Oil prices are having a hard time stabilizing amid fears that oversupply will continue dominating market. The slump at the pump is not over yet. Prices are falling at a steady rate, and motorists should see another round of discounts this week.”
It may be a distant memory, but in November 2016, as the Thanksgiving holidays approached, a few stations in Palm Beach County were offering gasoline for $1.99, cash price. The county’s average stood at $2.27 then.
Here are the lowest prices for a gallon of regular gasoline in Palm Beach County as reported to GasBuddy.com:
$2.01: North Palm Beach, Rocket Fuel, 100 N. Federal Highway
$2.02: West Palm Beach area including Raceway, 288. N. Haverhill Road; Mobil, 2050 Belvedere Road; Wawa, 1530 Belvedere Road; 7-Eleven, 1001 N. Military Trail; Murphy USA, 1050 N. Military Trail; Speedway, 2450 Okeechobee Blvd.; Cumberland Farms, 2692 N. Military Trail; Speedway, 6840 Okeechobee Blvd.
$2.02: Royal Palm Beach including Costco, 1001 Southern Blvd.
Better wrap up your plans and plan to head out early: More than 2 million Floridians — roughly 10 percent of the state’s population — are expected to travel this Memorial Day weekend.
AAA said Wednesday that projection is the highest in 12 years for Florida. And coupled with a record tourism pace in the Sunshine State, 31 million visitors in just the first quarter, it would represent a massive movement of population in a short period of time.
So, expect crowded highways, airports and beaches. But it’s also good news for Florida’s tourism economy, which is on a torrid pace to exceed 120 million visitors in 2017.
Across the country, lots of other people will also be on the move for what is the traditional start to the summer vacation season.
Low gas prices plus a long-weekend equals an estimated 39.3 million Americans traveling this Memorial Day weekend, AAA also estimated.
The automotive and travel group’s projection would mean equate to to 1 million more Americans traveling than during Memorial Day 2016.
“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” said Vicky Evans, Assistant Vice President, Travel Sales Development, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “So far in 2017, travel bookings with AAA in Florida are up 17 percent, compared to the same period last year. Higher confidence, rising wages, and recent gas price declines have bolstered consumer spending, leaving many Americans with more money to spend on travel this Memorial Day.”
“Gas prices were knocked off their seasonal upward trend when new data revealed record-high refinery activity,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said.
“When refineries finished spring maintenance season, they accelerated production to levels that outpaced demand. Because of this unexpected shift in fundamentals, motorists have likely seen the highest prices for the foreseeable future and retail prices should fall a few more cents this week,” Jenkins said.
Gas prices reached their highest monthly average for April in two years.
Dan McTeague, GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst, agreed that prices appear poised to drop again this week.
“An oversupply of gasoline as refiners ramp up production will continue to exert downward pressure on prices at the pumps,” McTeague said. “The national average gasoline price of $2.35 per gallon is a mere 14 cents higher than a year ago, down from a gap of nearly 40 cents just months ago.”
“The expected bump in fuel demand doesn’t seem to be coming, leaving refineries with a lot of inventory that has yet to find a market,” McTeague said.
Where is the cheapest gas in Palm Beach County? Since three Wawa convenience stores opened last Thursday, it’s likely to be at Wawa, as well as at numerous gas stations within a few miles of those.
The “Wawa effect” is in full force, but it’s not known how long it will last.
“It is not uncommon that when a store enters a new market, that it is hyper competitive on gas prices,” said Jeff Lenard, the National Association of Convenience Stores vice president of strategic industry initiatives.
Wednesday, regular was priced at $2.17 a gallon at the three Wawas at 3950 S. Congress Ave., and 1771 S. Congress Ave., both in Palm Springs and at 7289 Garden Road in Riviera Beach. That’s well below the county’s average of $2.44 a gallon, down 3 cents from a week ago, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report
But Florida’s average remains unchanged from a week ago at $2.29 a gallon.
The increased competition helps explain why five gas stations in Lake Park within 1 to 3 miles of the Riviera Beach Wawa, are also selling gas at $2.17, according to GasBuddy.com. Rocket Fuel, 100 N. Federal Highway, North Palm Beach, is offering regular for $2.15.
A few stations near the Palm Springs Wawas dropped their prices to $2.16 a gallon, and Wednesday gas was also $2.16 a gallon at Costco in Lantana and Royal Palm Beach and at BJs in Boynton Beach.
Wawa’s introductory $1.99 a gallon ended Saturday.
The price of gas is still the top reason 51 percent of consumers surveyed say they stop at a particular station, but 16 percent say they choose a fueling location for the quality of its food, a national survey NACS released Wednesday revealed.
“The margins on fuel are slim, and the idea is to get them in the store and incent them with a snack, sandwich or drinks,” Lenard said.
In the convenience store business, gasoline accounts for 70 percent of revenue dollars, but only 40 percent of profit dollars, Lenard said.
Patrick Dehaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, said, “Sometimes, a large chain similar to Wawa will enter a new market and use low prices to spread word of mouth to bring in traffic and acquaint customers with their stations/brand.”
DeHaan said the low prices can last for days or weeks until the ownership is satisfied the brand is established.
“Wawa is likely forgoing profit for the aforementioned reasons. I wouldn’t expect it to be permanent. It’s likely an accepted cost of entering a market,” DeHaan said.
Lori Bruce, spokeswoman for Wawa, Pa.-based Wawa, said, “In new markets, it is our goal to attract new customers, as we are doing that in Palm Beach County with our offer and competitive pricing. In every new market we’ve entered, we’ve increased the level of competition in the market, and that benefits our customers and fulfills our value proposition. We consider fuel as part of our overall unique offer that includes food, fresh beverages, convenience, services and fuel in one experience.”
Inexpensive gasoline is something many consumers seek, and more than half of consumers will drive out of their way to save 5 cents a gallon, Lenard said, even if driving those extra miles doesn’t make sense.
NACS’ survey found that 67 percent of consumers will drive 10 minutes out of their way to save 5 cents a gallon. That’s a 20-minute round trip, and at 30 miles per gallon, equates to burning to half a gallon. If gas is $2 a gallon, the motorist won’t break even, Lenard said.
Even saving 10 cents a gallon amounts to only $1.80 for an 18-gallon tank.
“But there is a real feeling of satisfaction and a real feeling of accomplishment when you are able to, as a consumer, affect your gas prices. There is nothing else like it,” Lenard said “You will not see someone drive out of their way to save 50 cents on milk, bread or eggs.”
If you have shaken your head in disbelief as a motorcyclist weaves in and out of traffic on I-95, often wearing no helmet, you may have wondered just how dangerous such behaviors are.
As anyone with an ounce of common sense would guess, it’s terribly dangerous.
It’s obvious that when motorcycles crash, their riders lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle. Per mile traveled, a motorcyclist is more than 20 times more likely to die than someone traveling in a vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In fact, Florida’s roads are particularly deadly for motorcyclists.
Florida ranks first in the nation for motorcycle deaths, with 606 statewide and 34 in Palm Beach County in 2015, the most recent year available from the NHTSA. That same year, 9,045 people were reported injured in motorcycle crashes in Florida.
It was the worst year ever for motorcycle crash-related fatalities in Florida, marking a 30 percent increase from 2014.
Motorcyclists accounted for one-fifth of motor vehicle fatalities in the state in 2015, yet motorcycles only account for 3 percent of registered vehicles. AAA said.
Thousands of motorcyclists are in Daytona Beach for the 76th annual Daytona Bike week that began Friday and ends this coming Sunday. Drivers should expect an increase in traffic on Florida roadways, AAA said last week.
Florida law allows people over 21 to operate and ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet if they are covered by an insurance policy providing for at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries incurred as a result of a crash while operating or riding on a motorcycle.
“Time and time again the effectiveness of motorcycle helmets has been proven through scientific study,” said Karen Morgan, Public Policy Manager, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “AAA strongly supports a universal helmet law in Florida.”
Hospital charges for motorcyclists – treated in a hospital due to a traffic crash – totaled $675,674,964 in 2015, according to the Florida Department of Health. The average cost for a motorcyclist involved in a traffic crash who was then admitted to the hospital was $83,676. Helmet use has been shown to significantly reduce the cost associated with motorcycle traffic crashes.
“Wearing a helmet could mean the difference between life and death,” said Josh Carrasco, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Our goal is to make sure all motorists arrive safely at their destination, including motorcyclists.”
Top Counties for Motorcycle Crash Deaths:
AAA encourages drivers and motorcyclists not to drive impaired and to follow these safety tips:
Safety Tips for Motorists:
Respect motorcycle riders. Motorcycles are vehicles too and have the same privileges as an automobile. Be sure to give them ample room.
Look and Listen. Even if a motorcycle is loud, you may not hear it. Actively look for motorcycles in traffic.
Leave room. Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and motorcyclists. Uneven terrain, wet roads, and heavy traffic often require a motorcycle rider to react and maneuver differently than automobiles.
Be aware. Take extra caution when making a left-hand turn, because most automobile-versus-motorcycle crashes occur during left-hand turns.
Don’t drive distracted. A driver who takes their eyes off the road for two seconds doubles their risk of getting into a crash.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists:
Wear safety gear. Helmets that meet DOT compliance standards, eye wear, closed-toe footwear and protective clothing reduce your risk of injury or death in a crash. Remember, the only thing between you and the ground is your protective gear.
Be visible. Keep headlights, marker and tail lights on at dusk and dark, or rainy weather. Wear bright clothing or put reflective strips on your bike to be more visible to other motorists. Avoid being in the blind spots of cars and trucks by following three to four seconds behind the vehicle in front of you.
Use sound judgment. Avoid weaving between lanes while riding. Be sure to use your signals and stick to the speed limit.
Get proper training. Completing a motorcycle safety course can not only make you a better rider, but save you money on your motorcycle insurance.
Motorists are about to experience a spring surprise. Gasoline prices could plunge as much as 5 to 10 cents a gallon in the short term as the price of crude oil fell last week.
The falling prices come at a time of year when gas prices typically rise as refineries undergo maintenance and switch to more expensive summer fuel blends.
Monday, Palm Beach County’s average had already dipped 2 cents a gallon to $2.49 from $2.51 a week ago, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report. Florida’s average stood at $2.27 Monday, down 1 cent from a week ago.
Some stations are well below the average. Here’s the lowest price for regular as reported on GasBuddy.com in the following cities:
Jupiter: $2.39, Circle K, 126 W. Indiantown Road
Palm Beach Gardens: $2.34, Sunoco, 2490 PGA Blvd.
North Palm Beach: $2.27, Citgo, 100 N. Federal Highway
West Palm Beach area: $2.28, Citgo, 970 S. Military Trail
Lake Worth area: $2.24, J&A, 4703 S. Military Trail
Wellington: $2.39, Marathon, 2741 State Road 7; Shell, 192 U.S. 441
“The oil market suffered a ‘mini collapse’ last week, following reports of a record build in domestic crude oil,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “This will postpone the customary spring-time gas price spike. Prices could drop 5-10 cents int he short term, but this downward trend may be only temporary.”
“A sudden plunge in the price of oil is likely to weigh on gas prices, at least temporarily,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com. “With little warning or expectation, crude oil last week broke out of the rut it had well established, with crude prices falling out of a 3-month range of $51-$54 per barrel to $49.”
“Naturally, when oil prices take a beating such as they did last week, one might expect gasoline prices to move in lockstep, but due the complex relationship of oil and gasoline prices and the middleman- U.S. refineries- motorists may not see as large a decline at the pump as they may hope for- but certainly stay tuned,” DeHaan said.
DeHaan said he remains optimistic that the annual spring rally at the pump could be less severe than expected, but added that is remains difficult to know where the new path will lead oil prices in the week ahead.