| NEW YORK
NEW YORK May 17 The number of Americans
traveling by car for the Memorial Day holiday will hit a 12-year
high this year, fueled by a growing economy and relatively low
gasoline prices, the nation's largest motorists' advocacy group
said on Wednesday.
The American Automobile Association projected 34.6 million
people will drive 50 miles (80 km) or more from home during the
end-of-month holiday period, the most since 37.3 million in 2005
and a 2.4 increase from last year.
The expectation for high driving numbers is welcome news for
U.S. gasoline refiners, who are banking on the summer driving
season to draw down stubbornly high product inventories and
The Memorial Day holiday period is defined as Thursday, May
25 through Monday, May 29.
Economic factors, such as increases in consumer spending and
gross domestic product, are strong enough to overcome slight
gains in U.S. gasoline prices, AAA noted.
Drivers will pay the highest Memorial Day prices since 2015.
The average U.S. price for regular gasoline was $2.36 per gallon
on Tuesday, up from $2.22 a year ago, according to AAA.
Airfares, car rental rates and mid-range hotels are all
trending higher than last year's Memorial Day.
“Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending, and
many Americans are choosing to allocate their extra money on
travel this Memorial Day," Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice
president, Travel and Publishing, said in a statement.
The overall number of holiday travelers, including by air,
is expected to reach more than 39 million, the second-highest
since 2005, AAA said.
Driving activity in the United States is closely watched
since the country accounts for about 10 percent of global
Motorists logged 272 billion miles (438 billion km) on U.S.
roads and highways in March, a 0.8 percent increase
year-on-year, according to the latest data released on Tuesday
by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
U.S. vehicle miles traveled were up 1.5 percent
year-over-year through the first three months of 2017.
Despite the strong driving numbers, U.S. gasoline demand was
down 2.1 percent from a year ago during the first two months of
the year, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Energy
(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Dan Grebler)