Pine Belt prepares for Thanksgiving travel

Pine Belt prepares for Thanksgiving travel

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Drivers in Mississippi hitting the road for Thanksgiving are seeing some of the lowest gas prices in the country.

According to AAA, drivers across the country are paying the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008, with a national average of $2.07 per gallon. In Mississippi, that average is even lower, sitting at $1.81, according to

"One holiday gift has come early this year," said Marshall Doney, AAA President and CEO. "Americans will likely pay the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008. Lower prices are helping boost disposable income, and enabling families to kick off the holiday season with a Thanksgiving getaway."

Clifton Istre said he does not remember the last time prices were down this much.

"It's never been this low," he said. "We're paying just around $2 or something."

Tim Gonda said he is a regular day-before-Thanksgiving driver.

"Always," he said. "In-laws. 26 years."

He said the lower gas prices are "definitely" beneficial for him, even though he would be traveling anyway.

"Oh yeah, you can always put it on something else," Gonda said. "Of course I stopped in Hattiesburg to get some because I know in Florida it's going to be higher."

Ronald Shorts said he travels regularly for work and to visit family in Bassfield and said he is noticing the the extra savings.

"It's definitely helping out," Shorts said. "I'm definitely enjoying that. It's allowing me to free up some extra money for Christmas shopping and black Friday shopping, so definitely enjoying the gas prices right now."

AAA also said it expects the number of drivers on the road to increase this year.

"AAA projects 46.9 million holiday travelers this Thanksgiving, that's the most since 2007," Doney said. "It also marks the seventh consecutive year of travel growth for this holiday."

Gonda said he is already seeing lots of traffic.

"I-10 from Baton Rouge over to Slidell was real heavy, but once I got on 59 coming up to Hattiesburg, it backed off a little bit." Gonda said.

Shorts said he thought traffic seemed fairly normal, but expected it to pick up later in the day.

"It kind of seemed like weekend traffic a little bit," he said. "I guess it's because a lot of people are off of work. It's pretty normal traffic, but I expect it'll get pretty busy in Hattiesburg."

AAA says the vast majority of Thanksgiving travelers, 42 million Americans, will travel by car, and 3.6 million people will fly. AAA says only 1.4 million will take trips by bus, train or cruise ship.