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NEW YORK -- The average price of a gallon of gasoline has dropped more than 20 cents in the last two months -- more than four cents in the past two weeks -- a trend that could be a catalyst for much more Thanksgiving auto travel.
The average cost of gasoline was $1.51 last Friday according to the The Lundberg Survey, which tracks gasoline prices at nearly 8,000 sites across the country, according to CNN.
The drop in prices could be a catalyst for more travel during the Thanksgiving holiday. Results of a recent survey by AAA released late last week revealed a 25-cent decline in gas prices would encourage 60 percent of Americans to increase their auto vacation plans. A 50-cent jump in gas prices would cause 57 percent of motorists to cut back on their auto vacations. The price of gasoline has fallen from a record high of $1.737 in late summer.
"The recent drop in gas prices comes at a most opportune time, since more than 85 percent of all projected Thanksgiving travel the last two years was by motor vehicle, said AAA Travel Vice President Sandra Hughes. "The Thanksgiving and Christmas-New Year's holidays traditionally are the two heaviest travel periods of the year."
A significant change in gas prices and the amount of vacation time motorists had would have a bigger impact on travel plans than the economy or terrorism against the United States, survey respondents said. "Even though the price of gasoline ranks below -- and in some cases well below -- food and lodging costs for the majority of Americans on action, it has had a significant psychological affect on travel since the oil embargo of the mid-70s," Hughes said. "Rapidly rising gas prices have been a key factor in both short- and long-term travel slumps since the first major spike in 1974."
Falling gasoline prices, however, have been -- and will continue to be -- limited by OPEC's decision on Nov. 1 to limited crude oil production, Trilby Lundberg, publisher of The Lundberg Survey, told CNN. Other factors halting the price falloff include improvement in the U.S. economy and positive economic news in other parts of the world, such as China, she said.