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      Lower gas prices may boost Easter travel

      COLUMBIA (WACH/AP) -- A drop in gasoline prices may mean more travel in South Carolina during the Easter holiday weekend.

      AAA Carolinas says the average cost of a gallon of gas in the state has fallen 18 cents since Feb. 22, to $3.44.

      â??The good news is that weâ??re paying 25 cents per gallon less than last Easter, and gas prices continue to decline,â?? said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. â??As we head into the summer travel season, we expect prices to remain lower than what we saw last year, barring any supply issues or tensions in the Middle East.â??

      The Charlotte, N.C., motor club says gas prices typically go up in early spring, when refineries do maintenance and switch over to summer blends. This year, the increase happened earlier than usual before going back down.

      Many refineries have yet to transition to summer-blend gasoline, though, so AAA says it's unknown if prices have peaked for the spring.

      The Charleston area has South Carolina's highest-priced gasoline at $3.50. Spartanburg has the state's cheapest gas, at $3.37.

      Mack Miller and his family are spending Easter Weekend with relatives in Columbia. The Rochester, New York man said the cost of gas has only gone down about seven cents there; but he knew it would get better as he headed south.

      "I saved $17 filling up my car here then I do when I fill it in Rochester," Miller said. "This trip here was $135 once we came into Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. We saved about $48."

      More cars on the road means more Highway Patrol cars looking out for dangerous drivers. South Carolina Trooper Brent Kelly said the Palmetto State has had 41 fewer deaths on roads compared to this point last year.

      "We are headed in the right direction," Kelly said. "But one fatality is one too many."

      A statistic Miller said can be avoided if drivers use caution.

      "If you drive right, don't drink, don't drive, do everything the proper way, you should have no problem coming to South Carolina and enjoying yourself."

      You can always find the cheapest gas in your area and report the low prices you find on the WACH Fox Pain at the Pump page. You'll even be able to find the best places to fill up if you're heading out of town for Easter weekend.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)