Another drop in gasoline prices is expected to boost the number of people coming to the Myrtle Beach area for July 4th holiday this week, and public safety officials want those visitors and residents to be safe while celebrating.
“We expect a large number of people in town over the Fourth of July week and we will have additional officers working,” Myrtle Beach police Capt. David Knipes. “Also a reminder that fireworks are illegal to possess or discharge inside the city limits.”
More police and fire officials will be working to patrol the area’s roads, waterways and respond to emergencies and monitor for violations such as driving or boating under the influence, according to officials.
“Make sure any celebrating is done responsibly,” Horry County police Sgt. Robert Kegler said. “Alcohol curbs good judgment, and there are a lot of things that become dangerous under the influence of it. Driving, swimming, fireworks all have dangers anyways, and it intensifies while under the influence.”
Fireworks are not permitted in most municipalities along the Grand Strand and officials recommend that visitors and residents attend a professional, organized show.
Surfside Beach police increased the number of officers they will have on the beach this year to help keep everyone safe, Chief Mike Frederick said.
“We usually add an officer on the beach during holiday weeks, but we added two this week due to very large number of visitors already here and to assist with problems attendant to the very high temperatures,” Frederick said.
The official travel holiday period begins Tuesday, and troopers with the S.C. Highway Patrol as well as officers with the state Department of Natural Resources plan to step up their patrols on highways and waterways. Last year, nine people were killed on the highways during the July 4 holiday.
“When a holiday falls mid-week, we see motorists traveling both weekends – before and after the holiday,” said Highway Patrol Col. Mike Oliver. “That is why troopers will be out in larger numbers throughout the week, joining other law enforcement agencies for saturations and public safety checkpoints to keep motorists safe.”
Officials expect more people driving to the Grand Strand after gas prices dropped 11 cents per gallon to $2.88 over the last week according to SouthCarolinaGasPrices.
South Carolina and Mississippi are the only two states where gas is less than $3 per gallon, said Tom Crosby, AAA Carolinas spokesman. South Carolina currently has the cheapest gas in the country at $2.915 per gallon, 6.8 cents less than a week ago.
“The gas prices had a great impact on our decision to come this week,” said visitor Johnny Barney.
The Barney’s drove in last Saturday from Mississippi to enjoy all that Myrtle Beach has to offer.
“We’ve been doing a lot of sight-seeing,” Barney said.
They were spending the money they saved from gas on afternoon shopping at Broadway at the Beach.
Michael Sprinkle and his family didn’t come to vacation from Pennsylvania because the gas prices are low, but it was an added bonus.
“We come down here every year regardless, but it made it a lot better,” Sprinkle said.
The Sprinkles said they were spending the extra money they saved by doing more shopping during their seven day vacation.
The price per gallon in Myrtle Beach is 32 cents lower than a month ago and 40 cents lower than a year ago.
Gasbuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan says the decline in prices may soon be coming to an end.
“The yellow brick road won’t be leading us to cheaper pumps for much longer, something many Americans will undoubtedly tie to the upcoming holiday," DeHaan said in a press release.
Tom Crosby, the spokesman for AAA Carolinas, says that despite a slight increase in price on Friday he thinks gas will continue to drop.
“On Friday oil prices went up $7, but what happened on Friday was the European Union was deciding how they were going to solve the debt prices, and that fueled a little optimism about oil. The prices dropped back down after Friday,” Crosby said.
He says he still believes that the decreasing gas prices will continue.
“Well, I think it’s still going to be tied to the world economy and as long as the European economy remains fairly weak the prices of oil will remain low,” Crosby said.
The national average per gallon dropped 6.6 cents in the last week to $3.37 per gallon. That is 24 cents lower than a month ago and 19.8 cents lower than a year ago.
Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or BILLY CROSBY at 626-0310.