Traveling for the July Fourth weekend? Today would be a smart day to fill up the tank.
Triangle gas prices have fallen 40 cents in the past six weeks, and that's one reason that the AAA Carolinas motor club predicts a busy holiday travel weekend.
But those lower prices will surely click a few pennies higher before the weekend, thanks to a tax increase scheduled to hit the pumps Friday.
North Carolina's per gallon tax on gas and diesel fuel will rise from an all-time high 32.5 cents through today to an even-higher 35 cents starting Friday. The 2.5-cent change will give North Carolina the ninth-highest tax rate among the 50 states, according to the American Petroleum Institute.
The Obama administration said last week it would release 30 million barrels of oil from the nation's emergency stockpile. Economists said the supply increase would push gas prices even lower.
"Any drop in gas prices is good news for motorists, the economy and holiday travelers," Dave Parsons, president of Charlotte-based Carolinas AAA, said in a news release.
AAA predicted that 1.01 million North Carolinians will take trips this weekend, about 3 percent more than during the July Fourth weekend last year.