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Maryland Gas Tax Hikes Go Into Effect

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Gas tax increases approved earlier this year by the Maryland General Assembly go into effect today. On average, it means the price of gas will increase about 5 cents per gallon.

Opponents of the hikes believe many drivers will now go to neighboring Virginia to buy gas as a consequence.

According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, 80 percent of motorists purchase their gas at convenience stores. So they've studied drivers buying habits and came up with these conclusions. Two-thirds of drivers say they will go 5 minutes out of their way to buy cheaper gas, says Jeff Lenard of NACS.

"If you're driving five minutes out of your way to save 5 cents a gallon, the best you can probably do is break even if you add in the cost of the gas itself... driving 45 miles per hour at 30 miles per gallon," Lenard says.

Lenard adds that a third of drivers will go 10 minutes out of their way, which he says ends up costing them money. But Lenard says the emotional attachment to the price of gas makes consumers do something unique.

"You'll see people do things that will actually cost them money, but they'll feel good about it," he says

In addition to the gas increases, the second round of toll increases will be going into effect across the state. For those paying cash in a passenger vehicle, the Bay Bridge will go from $4 to $6 and the Nice Bridge on Route 301 will go from $4 to $6. Rates will also go up to a lesser extent for EZ-Pass users on the Key Bridge and the two Baltimore tunnels.

Lawmakers say the toll hikes were necessary to pay for improvements in roadway safety.

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