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Road trip!

Less than a month after consumers forked out the highest prices for gasoline for a July 4 weekend since 2008, they'll fill up today at the lowest average Aug. 1 price since 2010 and should pay even less this fall.

Price tracker gasbuddy.com says the average cost of regular-graded, unleaded gasoline begins the month at $3.51 a gallon - a 15-cent drop from the $3.66 average on Independence Day and the lowest price since mid-March.

"Put simply, most oil markets have returned to price levels seen before worries about Russian and Iraqi supply dominated headlines in the second quarter,'' says gasbuddy.com chief oli analyst Tom Kloza.

"August typically brings a choppy environment for U.S. fuel prices thanks to the possibility of tropical weather impacting Gulf Coast and Caribbean refining operations,'' Kloza says. "But unless a named hurricane hits refining clusters between Corpus Christi, Texas and Pascagoula, Mississippi, gasbuddy projects that peak 2014 motor fuel prices are in the rear view mirror for most drivers."

Pump prices are expected to continue sliding into fall, given strong refining output and robust North American crude oil production.

Crude prices continue to slide in what's shaping up to the be the biggest one-week drop since February. Benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell 61 cents to $97.56 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday, down nearly 5% since Monday. Wholesale gasoline for mid-September delivery slipped nearly six cents to $2.74 a gallon, lowest since March.

"By November, we'll probably see thousands of sites where $3 a gallon can be beaten,'' Kloza says.

The nation's best state for cheap gas: South Carolina, averaging $3.22 a gallon. Priciest: Hawaii, at $4.34.

Follow Strauss on Twitter @gstrauss_

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