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How to save money driving on your Memorial Day weekend road trip

Hitting the road for the Memorial Day holiday weekend? Here are ways to save some cash.

ST. LOUIS — If you're one of the millions of people taking a road trip for Memorial Day weekend, you're brave for a number of reasons. Record-breaking gas prices and the annual spike in wrecks over the holiday weekend could make anyone think twice.

But still, AAA reports almost 40 million people will be taking a trip this weekend.

Memorial Day weekend is one of the deadliest holiday travel periods.

The National Safety Council estimates that 450 people may die on U.S. roads this weekend. Increased traffic and likelihood of drunk driving play a role in that number.

During the 2020 Memorial Day weekend, 41% of vehicle deaths across the country involved an alcohol-impaired driver.

Still, the safety council says seatbelts could really make the difference. Just wearing one increases your chance of surviving a wreck by 45%.

AAA said travel numbers will be up 8.3% from last year. But it will cost a lot more to get from Point A to Point B, and it could just depend on where you stop to fill up.

"You will see a huge difference in gasoline prices by station," explained AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross, who spoke with one of our NBC affiliates. "It could be as much as $0.40 to $0.60 depending on the station, and the stations can be within a mile of each other. So, just sort of plot your trip as you go."

Experts predict prices at the pump are only going to get worse. So, here's a look at how much you'll pay going into this weekend.

In Missouri, state gas prices for a gallon of regular are at $4.17 as of Thursday, the highest ever recorded in the state. That’s still below the national average of $4.60.

Last year, gas cost $2.73 a gallon.

MAP: Find the cheapest gas prices in the St. Louis area

In Illinois, gas prices are at about $5.00 a gallon. The average price in the state is $4.96. The record gas price for Illinois was set May 22 at $4.98.

One year ago, a gallon of gas in Illinois would have cost you $3.23.

Considering prices at the pump, you'll have to save in other ways.

"They'll find ways to save money on their trip elsewhere and that may be eating out less while on vacation or finding more economic accommodations,” said AAA Missouri spokesperson Nick Chabarria, who spoke with KSHB in Kansas City. "We know there's a lot at play right now with global oil and gas industries and unless something dramatic changes, prices are going to remain where they're at or continue to go up."

Here are some simple ways you can save while driving this holiday weekend. 

  • Aggressive driving – such as rapid acceleration, braking and speeding – can lower gas mileage by 15-30% at highway speeds or 10-40% in the city.

  • Gas mileage can decrease rapidly at speeds over 50 mph. The Department of Energy has an interactive tool that shows how much of a difference going over 50 mph can do in terms of fuel cost for vehicles as far back as those made in 1984. (Click where it says "What is the penalty for my car?")

  • To help maintain a speed, use cruise control.

  • Rooftop cargo carriers can be a drag on fuel economy – as much as 25% at highway speeds and 8% in the city. If you don't need to use it, take it off.

  • Also remove excess weight from the vehicle. Every 100 pounds of additional weight can reduce miles per gallon by about 1%.

*Tips from the Department of Energy

READ ALSO: As gas prices remain high, here are some gas-saving tips

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