Drivers accustomed to high prices at pump

As gas prices hover near the $3.50 mark, analysts say many Americans aren’t curtailing driving habits as they did several years ago.
Many people have factored the expense into their lifestyle, said David Hunt, a sociology professor at Augusta State University.

“They’ve seen it once. They’ve adjusted to it,” he said.

Analysts predict fuel prices could hit $4 a gallon by May, said AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady. In March, many oil refineries shut down for maintenance, which drives prices up into the summer.

Several years ago, Spencer Peters, of Augusta, wrote his own rule to never spend more than $40 on gas at once. He hasn’t broken the rule but says he might have to modify it to $45 in coming months.

“I’m doing the same thing I did the first time they raised it,” Peters said. “I go to work and come home.”

January’s average price was $3.37, the highest ever in that month, AAA said. In Augusta, gas averaged $3.48 on Friday.

“People have hit $3.50 before. They realize they can ride it out,” Brady said.

Brett Savage, of North Augusta, said he hasn’t gotten used to the way high prices affect his towing company.

“We go from call to call. The rest of the time we don’t do any driving around,” he said.

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