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Automatic gas tax increases take effect in Maryland, Virginia

Drivers face higher prices at the pump just in time for the Independence Day weekend

BETHESDA, Md. — Maryland and Virginia drivers will be paying more at the pump as of Friday, July 1 when gas taxes in both states are automatically going up.

Maryland

In Maryland where the average price of regular unleaded gas per gallon is $4.83 according to AAA, drivers can expect to pay seven cents more per gallon. Currently, the gas tax is 36 cents and with the increase, it will be 43 cents.

The jump is due to legislation passed in 2013 that indicates that the gas tax must be increased based on the Consumer Price Index. 

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle continue calling for the General Assembly to convene a special session to approve a gas tax holiday after Governor Larry Hogan suspended the tax for a month earlier this year.

Hogan tweeted out in a statement, "I am prepared to swiftly sign a gas tax suspension."

On top of record-high gas prices, the news about the price increase was met with frustration by Maryland drivers like Jean Edouard Casseus, "Before I spent $40 on a daily basis, now I am spending close to $90."

Casseus is a taxi driver, he says he has not yet recovered financially from the pandemic, and with the price of gas now, he spends one-third of his earnings on fuel.

RELATED: Maryland leaders point fingers as state faces automatic $200M gas tax increase

Virginia

In Virginia, gas prices are slightly lower according to AAA, which says that the average price of regular unleaded is $4.69. As of July 1, the commonwealth will see a 7% increase that will reflect as three cents more per gallon at the pump.

"I am not going anywhere, we cannot afford it right now," said Shah a Virginia driver who spoke to WUSA9 while filling the tank of his large SUV.  He says that he has had to cancel all family trips for the summer because he is forced to increase the hours he works.  

"We used to work 10 hours a day to feed our family and now we are working 12 to 14 hours a day and we still can't make what we made before," says Shah who on average spends $150 filling up the tank to his vehicle. 

Governor Glenn Youngkin's attempts to suspend the gas tax for 90 days have failed in the commonwealth. 

RELATED: Virginia Governor's 3-month gas tax holiday proposal fails in Senate

Holiday Travel

On top of record-high gas prices, the increase in the gas tax happens to fall on the Independence Day holiday weekend. AAA estimates that around 950,000 people in the Washington, D.C. metro areas will be driving to their fourth of July celebrations.  

Experts are urging drivers to fill up their tanks before hitting the road on this weekend especially because drive times could double in certain parts of the country.

Tips to Save Gas

AAA spokesperson Regina Ali shared the following tips to potentially save gas: 

  • Get your vehicle checked out. Perform regular car maintenance at the intervals recommended by the vehicle manufacturer in the owner's manual or as indicated by the in-car maintenance reminder system.
  • Keep tires properly inflated. Under-inflated tires can decrease your gas mileage by approximately 3%. Not to mention, properly inflated tires are safer and last longer. Check the pressure in all four tires every two weeks with an accurate, hand-held air pressure gauge.
  • Know your octane. Do not purchase mid-grade or premium gas unless your owner’s manual specifically recommends it. According to AAA research, Americans waste more than $2.1 billion annually on premium gas in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. AAA found no benefit to using premium gas instead of regular-grade fuel. At the time of the study, 70% of U.S. drivers owned a vehicle that required only regular gasoline.
  • Avoid idling. Idling gets zero miles per gallon. Letting your vehicle idle for more than 10 seconds uses more gas than shutting it off and restarting. Don't start your car until you are ready to go. The engine actually warms up more quickly once the car is operating, and will stay warm after stopping. Avoid drive-up windows - park and go inside instead.
  • Observe the speed limit.  Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.15 per gallon of gas. Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.
  • Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town.
  • Consolidate trips. Combining errands into one trip saves you time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multi-purpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. With a little planning, you can avoid retracing your route and reduce the distance you travel as well. You'll not only save fuel but also reduce wear and tear on your car.
  • Minimize drag.  Drag reduces fuel efficiency. Driving with the windows open, using roof- or rear-mounted racks and carrying heavy loads increase vehicle drag. A roof rack or carrier provides additional cargo space and may allow you to meet your needs in a smaller, more fuel-efficient car. However, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5%. Reduce aerodynamic drag and improve your fuel economy by using a removable rack and placing items inside the trunk whenever possible. Avoid carrying unnecessary items, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces a typical car's fuel economy by 1-2%.

 

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