Fewer Americans plan to drive this Thanksgiving as gas prices near record highs

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The nation's soaring gas prices are keeping more American's off the roads this Thanksgiving, according to a new survey. 

A slim 32% of Americans plan to drive during the Thanksgiving holiday, which is a 35% decline from the last November, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, according to GasBuddy's 2021 Thanksgiving Travel Survey.  

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According to the data, more than half of Americans, 51%, admitted that they won't be hitting the road specifically because of the high prices at the pump. 

And those that are expecting to travel aren't planning on going too far, with most traveling a maximum of three hours in the car.

"Motorists are not feeling too encouraged by the fact that we are going up at a time of year that we are used to seeing gas prices decline," Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy's head of petroleum analysis, told FOX Business' Stuart Varney during an interview on "Varney & Co." on Tuesday. 

Currently, prices are up 60% from this time last year, De Haan added. 

The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is at $3.41, according to De Haan, which is just below a record high in 2012 when prices notched $3.44 per gallon, according to GasBuddy data.

"Keep in mind the priciest Thanksgiving ever was $3.44 a gallon – we're right there," De Haan said.  

On Thanksgiving Day, GasBuddy projected that the national average price of gasoline will fall to $3.35 per gallon, which is still "amongst the highest we’ve seen in over seven years."   

"With global oil demand surging this year as the pandemic has eased, we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory," De Haan said in a statement. 

However, even though oil prices "can't make up their mind," De Haan said that with OPEC increasing production, there may be relief between now and Christmas. 

As of Tuesday, West Texas Intermediate crude oil hit $80.69 a barrel.

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By contrast, AAA reported that consumer confidence in travel is building due to loosening restrictions, and projected that 48.3 million people will drive this Thanksgiving. 

"Now that the borders are open and new health and safety guidelines are in place, travel is once again high on the list for Americans who are ready to reunite with their loved ones for the holiday," AAA Travel Senior Vice President Paula Twidale said. 

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