Gas Prices Down, Thanksgiving Road Trips Up

The price of a gallon of self-serve regular dropped to $3.832 overnight

By Sharon Bernstein and Sarah Grieco
|  Monday, Nov 19, 2012  |  Updated 3:52 PM PDT
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Gas prices in Southern California appear to have stabilized after a swift run-up last month that forced many to cut back on automobile travel and commuting.

The price of a gallon of self-serve regular in San Diego County dropped a fraction of a penny from Sunday night to Monday, to $3.802. That’s still two cents higher than last year, but considerably lower than the record high set last month of $4.52 per gallon.

Prices in San Francisco also dropped slightly, to $3.898 per gallon. Statewide, the average was $3.785 per gallon.

“We haven’t been paying prices this low since early August,” said Marie Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the Automobile Club of Southern California.

With prices flattening, the number of people who say they plan to travel over the Thanksgiving weekend has held fairly steady over last year, Montgomery said.

A recent survey by the Auto Club showed that about 5,432,000 Californians plan to travel over the holiday, an increase of about 32,000 over last year. The vast majority of people are traveling by car.

Air travel, however, is expected to decline this Thanksgiving for the second year in a row. About 549,000 Californians said they would fly to celebrate the holiday in 2012, compared to 559,000 last year.

In Southern California, 2.93 million people planned to travel by car over the holiday, and 341,000 said they would fly. The top five destinations for Southern California travelers were Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco, the Central Coast and the Grand Canyon.

Overall, travel has not yet returned to the pre-recession levels. At the peak in 2005, nearly 7 million people planned to travel over Thanksgiving in the state – 5.4 million by car and about 788,000 by air.

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