As global oil prices continue their slide downward, U.S. gasoline prices are following suit.
AAA is reporting the national average price of gas at the pump may fall below $3 a gallon within the next several weeks -- an average price not seen in years.
The national average gas price as of Friday is $3.07 per gallon, about 26 cents per gallon less compared to a year ago. AAA says gas prices have dropped 61 cents per gallon since late June.
At the moment, 17 states have an average price below the $3 per gallon mark, and drivers currently can find at least one gas station selling gas for less than $3 in 47 states. (The exceptions are Hawaii, Alaska and Montana.)
AAA notes that for every cent that the national average falls, it frees over $1 billion in annual consumer spending, if that lower price were to be sustained over a year's time. Here's a more direct way of looking it: Most drivers are currently spending $5 to $20 less when they fill up their tanks, compared to what they were paying around the July Fourth holiday.
"Every day, Americans are spending over $100 million less on their gasoline purchases than they did a year ago, some of which will be injected back into the economy in other forms," GasBuddy.com senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHann said earlier this week.
"And with the economic concerns taking shape lately," he added, "it could help jolt things back in the right direction."
In the meantime, car owners are enjoying the windfall. "I'm not asking questions," driver Jennifer Scott told CBS station KYW-TV in Philadelphia.
"My car is a gas guzzler, so it's good for me," she added. "I love spending less than $50 to fill my tank. And I have premium, so that's awesome."