WASHINGTON – Ruth Acevedo was too busy to worry about gas prices Thursday at the Chevron station in Damascus: She was loading drinks into a cooler and keeping track of her three children as they pleaded to get on with their Labor Day trip to Boston.
“I’m not too concerned about the prices,” said Acevedo, as she pumped gas into her Honda Accord. “I think they’re pretty good, compared to where they were.”
The Germantown resident is one of a number of Marylanders who said their Labor Day travel plans will not be affected by relatively high gas prices this holiday weekend. A survey by AAA Mid-Atlantic said the average price of a gallon of gas in Maryland stood at $1.87 on Aug. 31, or 19 cents more than the same day a year earlier.
“I’ve become numb to the prices. I’m going to do what I need to do, regardless of the cost,” said Don Frost, 36, as he pumped gas at a station in Clarksburg.
Frost said Hurricane Frances “is the only thing that will make me change” a planned trip to the beach this weekend.
The AAA notes that while gas prices are 11 percent higher than they were last Labor Day, they have come down from the peak seen earlier this summer.
“Prices have dropped from a high of $2.05 just before Memorial Day and during the first week of June,” said John White, a spokesman for the auto club’s regional office in Towson.
The automobile association attributes the lower price to a recent dip in crude oil prices, coupled with sufficient gasoline imports and strong domestic inventories. But White cautions against assuming the trend will continue.
“It will be unpredictable going forward,” he noted. “There are so many unknowns internationally that stand to affect pricing.”
AAA said about 550,000 Marylanders traveled by car over the Memorial Day weekend, despite the record-high prices. Travel this weekend is expected to be more modest — AAA expects roughly 475,000 Marylanders to hit the roads for Labor Day — but that is still up 2.4 percent from the holiday last year.
Tom Leavell, owner of the Quick Stop gas station and garage near Germantown, said it’s been business as usual for him in the run up to the holiday. The 55-year-old Frederick County resident said he expects business to peak Friday afternoon as travelers get a jump start on the weekend.
“People are saying they’ll pay it, so we’re doing fine,” Leavell said.
Frost, a small business owner who says he puts about 35,000 miles on his truck each year, figures gas is a bargain when compared to milk, for example.
“I don’t dwell on it because I have to deal with it,” he said.
Acevedo was not dwelling on the price of gas, either, as she finished loading snacks and drinks into her car and looked around to make sure she had everything.
“I would have driven to New England regardless of the cost,” she said, as her kids shouted for her to go.
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