A variety of factors are driving gasoline prices down across the state this week — and now the federal shutdown could mean even more relief at the pump.
Gas prices have been falling for weeks throughout the region and state, to an average of $3.34 per gallon on Thursday, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. That's compared to $3.38 a week ago, $3.55 a month ago and $3.71 a year ago.
On the Eastern Shore on Thursday, prices were as low as $3.19, and comparatively low prices also were reported in the Washington region and in Virginia. Declines have been seen in every part of Maryland, AAA said.
Americans have paid more than $3 a gallon for more than 1,000 consecutive days, so the recent declines are "welcome news," the driver advocacy organization said.
Maryland has the 24th most expensive state in the nation for gasoline, AAA. South Carolina has the least expensive, at $3.09, and Hawaii the most, at $4.25.
The federal government shutdown is causing a decline in driving, and thus in gasoline demand, and "will likely be another factor" pushing down costs depending on how long it lasts, said Christine Delise, a AAA spokeswoman.
Other factors are already at play, she said, including "sufficient supplies" and "flat demand," AAA said.
Also, a blend of gasoline used by area stations during cooler months is cheaper than summer gasoline, AAA said, and stations already have made the switch.
AAA believes the downward trend in gas prices will continue though the end of the year, barring some unexpected disaster or geopolitical shift.