In the first half of August 2020, the price at the pump for a gallon of regular gasoline was the same in New Jersey as the average across the rest of the United States, $2.17.

As of Tuesday, that amount had jumped more than a buck, to $3.20 on average according to AAA, now notching two cents higher than the national rate.

Although we are much more active this year than last, Delta variant or not, AAA Mid-Atlantic public & government affairs manager Tracy Noble said the bounceback in activity as COVID-19 evolves isn't really helping drivers out.

"Demand increased during the summer of 2021, whereas it simply dropped off in the summer of 2020, so a lot of factors playing in," Noble said.

Get our free mobile app

New Jersey actually is the cheapest of its immediate neighbors, on average: New York clocks in at $3.22 per gallon right now, and Pennsylvania is at $3.28.

So instead of crossing state lines as motorists often do in times like these, Noble suggests trying to pay in cash, considering a station membership card, or shopping around on your commute.

"You really just need to do your homework, and then you also need to make sure you know the proper type of fuel that your vehicle calls for," she said.

Speaking of commutes, those may increase further for the rest of 2021 as employers try to bring workers back to offices in person, which could push demand even higher.

But the timing might be advantageous in that regard, Noble said.

"As we come into the fall months and temperatures start to drop, that's typically when we see prices drop, because there is that switch over to the winter blend fuels," she said.

The price of crude oil has fallen in the past week, which could be a leading indicator of where consumer gas prices will be going next.

Noble cautions that that is not always the case, and the specter of increased hurricane activity in the Atlantic lingers.

"As the summer comes to an end and then we enter into a more heavy hurricane season, you never know what you are going to get," Noble said.

Within New Jersey, the cheapest spot for gas is currently Burlington County, at $3.14 per gallon. The most expensive: Cape May County, at $3.30.

Most wanted in Hunterdon County

The Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office has created a list of their 21 most wanted fugitives.

Beautiful sunflower fields to visit in NJ 2021

Among reasons why the “Garden State” remains a fitting nickname for New Jersey — late summer means the arrival of sunflower season.

There are at least six fields, spanning the state. Some are in bloom as of early August, while others are planned to peak from late August to late September.

Calling or emailing before heading out is always advisable if weather appears to be an issue. 

NJ arrests 31 accused child predators in "Operation 24/7"

A roundup of 31 men have been accused of sexually exploiting children online, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced on July 14 while detailing "Operation 24/7."

The suspects “possessed and or distributed videos and images of child sexual abuse, including in many cases videos of young children being raped by adults,” Grewal said.

Chat apps and gaming platforms remain favorite hunting grounds for child predators and even as the pandemic winds down, many children have continued to spend more time online.

State Police received 39% more tips in just the first 6 months of 2021 than they received in the entire year in 2019. The following are suspects charged in "Operation 24/7."