CHARLOTTE – For the first time in 81 days, North Carolinians are paying less at the pump than they did a year ago, according to AAA Carolinas.

On Aug. 15, North Carolinians started paying more at the pump than the prior year, reaching a peak of 34 cents more on Oct. 10. Since then, gas prices have fallen rapidly, down 10 cents in the past week from $3.48 to $3.38.

Average gas prices in North Carolina have fallen 47 cents since mid-September to $3.38, one cent lower than the year-ago price of $3.39.

Hurricane Sandy hasn’t affected gas prices in the Carolinas, which get 90 percent of their oil from the Gulf of Mexico.

The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.47; a year ago, it was $3.42.