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Tara Kadioglu/MEDILL

Mike Herbst is shocked at the thought that Illinois's gas prices -- among the country's highest this year, thanks to slowdowns at oil refineries -- could ever keep him from driving to his favorite fishing spot for the holiday.

Driven for Memorial Day weekend: Gas prices, national decrease in drivers don't deter Illinois

by Tara Kadioglu
May 23, 2013

HighwayCongestion_Highway_Tara Kadioglu

Tara Kadioglu/MEDILL

Despite odds of high gas prices and safety concerns announced by Illinois State Police today, AAA's statistics show just as many Chicago drivers plan to hit the road for Memorial Day weekend this year as last year.

Gas prices in the Midwest are significantly higher than the rest of the nation this year, according to AAA's Fuel Gauge Report. In Chicago, a gallon of regular gas averages $4.24 per gallon this year, 15 cents more than last year -- compared to the national average of $3.66 per gallon, which is 2 cents lower than last year at this time. This may be due to bottlenecks at Midwest refineries causing more expensive crude oil to be bought at the pump, according to AAA. But this remains a big driving holiday -- with nearly 2 million Chicagoans expected to be driving and 31 million people driving across the nation. Because of the high congestion, the State Police issued a safety report Thursday morning.