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Despite near record gas prices and repeated cries for someone to do something about them, American motorists plan to drive even more this Memorial Day weekend than they did last year, according to an AAA study released Thursday.
The number of Americans traveling 50 or more miles from home this holiday weekend will jump 0.9 percent to 37.6 million, AAA said in a statement. Of those, 84 percent are expected to drive, an increase of 0.7 percent.
"High gas prices and increased vacation costs won't deter Americans from traveling this Memorial Day," AAA Travel Vice President Sandra Hughes said in the statement. "Families may travel closer to home or for fewer days, but they will continue to take vacations and plan getaways."
AAA also said it will be costlier to travel this holiday season than last. For the 11 percent of travelers who plan on flying, the price of a ticket will be 10 percent higher, AAA said. It blamed the increase on higher fuel prices and fewer airline seats available. About 11 percent of all travelers plan on flying, a 1.5 percent increase from last year, AAA said.
And don't expect a break on car rentals or hotel rooms, CNNMoney.com reported. AAA expects hotel rates to increase 5 percent and car rental rates to rise 19 percent. It will cost $6 more on average this year to rent a car, the highest rate for Memorial Day weekend in 6 years, AAA said.
Despite the high gas prices, only about 5 percent of holiday travelers will go by bus or train, about the same number as a year ago, the study found.
As of Thursday, the average cost of a gallon of regular gas was $2.93, up 17 cents from a month ago and more than 75 cents higher than last year, according to AAA. Gas is also within sight of its all-time high of $3.06 a gallon in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
The near record prices have prompted outrage from consumers and a myriad of proposals from lawmakers, CNNMoney.com reported.
Some politicians have called for price fixing investigations against oil and gas suppliers, breaking up the big oil companies and suing OPEC nations on antitrust grounds. But many experts say the rising prices are a result of supply and demand, and won't come down until supply is increased or demand is reduced.