Gas prices begin annual creep upward

Higher prices at the gas pump that crept up throughout March are a sign of springtime, according to AAA Auto Club Group.

As of Friday, the average price of gasoline in Georgia was 8 cents higher than a month ago. The increase compares to a 20-cent jump nationally two of the past three years during March.

In Georgia, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.38. Neighboring South Carolina’s average price was 12 cents lower.

According to AAA, gas prices normally rise during spring as refineries perform seasonal maintenance and begin switching to summer-blend gasoline, which is required by May 1. Continued international tensions between Russia and Ukraine have also caused prices to spike.

Some motorists, including Paul Klingensmith, of Augusta, say they’re accustomed to changes in prices. Klingensmith filled up his car on Friday at the RaceWay on Gordon Highway.

“I haven’t really noticed. It seems like the prices fluctuate up and down all the time,” he said, adding that Georgia prices are a relief from the sky-high prices he paid when he lived in California.

Harley Hayden, also of Augusta, said he’s gotten used to adjusting his driving habits and making fewer trips.

“When gas prices go up, people stay at home,” he said.

AAA said prices were at the highest level since September. The national average was expected to peak in late March or early April, at between $3.55 and $3.75 a gallon.

Derrick Edwards, of Augusta, said he “couldn’t believe” the price he was paying to fill half a tank in a U-Haul he was preparing to drive to Atlanta on Friday. He’s dreaming of getting an electric car.

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