Visualizing Gas Prices: AAA.com, GasBuddy.com, and FoxNews.com
How do you give unbiased, actionable information in map form?
I woke up this morning needing to fill-up the fuel tank in my vehicle, so I jumped online to look up gas prices. I was met with a graphic from Fox News that seemed interesting to me. Here it is:
The color bar seemed weird to me, along with the range. Given Fox News’ reputation for skewing data to fit a narrative, I looked at their source, AAA.com. (Please note: Fox News are not the only news outlet on either end of the political spectrum to manipulate data.) Here is AAA.com’s map:
Note that the range of colors is different. Where Fox News has eight categories of colors, AAA.com has five, with a neat white color for prices in the middle. Then there is Gas Buddy (dot com) and their map, which I find the best of them all:
Here, the color scale is inverted, compared to the others. The darker the color, the cheaper the gasoline price per gallon. I find this map the best, because it shows prices per county. Along with the ten categories, the map is very granular, giving me hyper-local gas prices and actionable information. I can even zoom in and find specific gas stations near me.
The Gas Buddy map also tells a better story. Let’s look at California, where the prices are highest. Zooming in around Fresno, I found that there were some spots where prices were almost a dollar cheaper than the rest of the state:
If you look at Fox News and AAA, you would think the South has some of the cheapest prices, but then look at the variation between Montgomery, Alabama, and Columbus, Georgia: