AAA Utah reported the average price of a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline in Utah was $2.55 on Wednesday, up from $1.89 on the same day last year.
The national average Wednesday was $2.62 per gallon, up from $1.86 per gallon a year ago.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which shut down many oil production facilities in the Gulf Coast and disrupted transportation, the cost of gas is expected to increase further, perhaps dramatically, before the weekend is over — and likely before many motorists begin their Labor Day journeys.
Still, 310,000 Utahns are expected to travel over the weekend.
"We understand the high price of gas can really put a strain on consumers," AAA Utah spokeswoman Rolayne Fairclough said. "But for many families, a final summer weekend together isn't something they're willing to give up, and there are ways to cut costs and still have a good trip."
AAA Utah suggests motorists can save money by:
Using a fuel-efficient vehicle for any trip.
Keeping tires properly inflated and having a mechanic inspect the vehicle before the trip.
Obtaining point-to-point directions and real-time traffic information, available to the public at www.aaamaps.com.
Driving "gently." Excessive braking and accelerating reduces fuel economy.
Shopping for the least expensive gas by checking the AAA fuel finder at www.aaa.com/prices.
Cutting food costs by packing snacks and meals, and eating the largest meal of the day at lunch to take advantage of lower menu costs.
"Travel will be up slightly this Labor Day, although the increase is smaller than what we've witnessed the last several holidays," Fairclough said. "Both record high gas prices and the increasing number of school districts that start in August play a part in this change."