For the fourth straight year, Americans will wake up on New Year's Day to record high gas prices — but don't take that as an indicator of how the new year will play out at the pump.
According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, national gas prices are expected to be lower on average in 2014 than they were in 2013, which would continue a decline. In 2013, the national average of $3.49 per gallon was the lowest since 2010, AAA said.
In 2012, the national average was $3.60 per gallon, the highest on record, AAA said. In 2011, the national average was $3.51, the second highest on record.
Increased refinery capacity and crude oil production in the United States are expected to contribute to the lowered prices in 2014, AAA said.
"We can never be completely certain where gas prices will go, but these domestic factors help provide some insulation from the price impact of supply issues like refinery outages or international production concerns," said Ragina Cooper-Averella, a AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman.
But she also offered a caveat: that "it's always possible that unexpected events or greater than forecast economic growth could result in higher prices for motorists in 2014."
Motorists in Maryland saw higher prices increase at the end of 2013 due in part to refinery issues on the Gulf Coast and higher crude oil prices, AAA said.
On New Year's Eve, prices in Maryland stood at $3.46 per gallon, the highest New Year's Eve gas price in years. In 2013, the cost at the pump in Maryland at the start of the year was $3.38; in 2012 it was $3.26; and in 2011 it was $3.07.
The end of year price in Maryland follows an increase of 4 cents from a month ago. It is also 14 cents higher than the national average.