Gas prices up, but summer shouldn't be bad, AAA says

Thursday, April 10, 2014 12:39 PM
Last updated 8:43 PM
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Brad Willis fills up his tank in Evans. Prices are predicted to stay below peak cost in summer...  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
Brad Willis fills up his tank in Evans. Prices are predicted to stay below peak cost in summer...

Gas prices are rising rapidly, but AAA projects the summer average price will stay below peak prices seen in recent years.

The national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is the highest since August, causing concern for people planning travel.

Georgia is seeing its highest prices since September. Since last week, the price has risen almost 10 cents to $3.51, 4 cents higher than last year. The price is still 25 cents cheaper than 2013’s peak price and about 40 cents cheaper than peak prices in 2011 and 2012.

“Gas prices in some states are currently in line with what motorists were paying at the pump this time last year,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA-Auto Club Group. “While they could continue trending upwards for the next couple of weeks, prices are expected to remain well below their peak price in recent years.”

The recent climb is due to tightened supplies, increased demand and the yearly switch to summer blend gasoline. Refiners are required switch by May 1 with the gasoline required to be in pumps by June 1.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s short-term outlook, drivers could expect to pay an average of $3.57 a gallon this summer. The report states the summer’s monthly average price is expected to peak at $3.66 in May and then steadily decline to $3.46 in September. Prices are expected to be highest on the west coast, near $3.85, and lower on the east coast, about $3.53.

Still, fewer Americans are letting higher prices affect driving habits, according to a AAA study. About 40 percent think gas is too high above $3, and 65 percent agree when it reaches $3.50.

“Although they seem frustrated, our findings show that many drivers grudgingly accept that paying more than $3 per gallon for gasoline is the new normal,” Jenkins said.

About half of Americans, 15 percent fewer than last spring, are changing driving habits to offset prices. Young adults, 18 to 34, are more likely to do so than their elders.

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