Gloria Haines feels as if she has received an early Christmas present and is happy to pass it on.
The Oklahoma City piano teacher racks up significant mileage on her Nissan Altima, traveling throughout the metro area — and frequently into Kansas — to provide lessons.
The average price of a gallon of gasoline has tumbled more than 75 cents a gallon over the past three months, saving Haines about $10 per tank.
“That's more money this year to spend on other people instead of spending on gas,” Haines said. “I think it makes people a little bit more generous and lets them think more about other people this season. You have to think about where you can find a little bit of money to spend on other people, and this helps.”
Haines filled up for $2.79 a gallon Monday.
“For me, it doesn't change how much I drive, because I have to drive to make money,” she said. “But the savings helps. Every little bit helps.”
The statewide average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline on Monday dropped to $3.01, the lowest average price of the year and down 9 cents over the past week, according to AAA's fuelgaugereport.com.
AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai said the statewide price is expected to drop below $3 a gallon on Tuesday for the first time since February 2011.
“We're seeing very low demand, and supplies are healthy,” Mai said. “There is really no bad news on the horizon that might influence crude oil or gasoline prices. Everything is pointing toward maybe another dime or 15-cent decline.”
The average price in Oklahoma's metropolitan areas already has dipped below $3.
The Oklahoma City average dropped to $2.96 Monday, down 9 cents over the past week. Consumers in Tulsa paid an average price of $2.91 Monday, down from $3 one week ago.
Oklahoma's statewide average is second-lowest in the country, behind only Missouri, which boasted an average of $2.95 Monday.
Nationwide, the average settled at $3.24 Monday, down almost a dime over the past week and also a low price for the year. The price in Hawaii dropped to $3.97 Monday, marking the first time this year that the price is below $4 in all 50 states.
The reprieve in fuel costs could lead to increased travel over the next two weeks, Mai said.
“I think it's encouraging a lot of families to take a holiday road trip,” he said. “We're predicting an increase in the number of people traveling by car over the Christmas and New Year's holidays.”
Nationwide, AAA is expecting a 1.3 percent increase in highway travel, as 84.4 million people are expected to travel more than 50 miles this holiday season. In Oklahoma, AAA is expecting a 1.7 percent increase, to 800,000.
That's more money this year to spend on other people instead of spending on gas.”