For the first quarter of the year, gas prices have been expensive. On average, motorists are paying a quarter more than at the same time last year. In North Carolina, prices are currently $2.41 and in South Carolina, the average is $2.28.
While pump prices have dipped in recent weeks, this is not a trend consumers should expect to linger. AAA forecasts the national gas price average will be as much as $2.70/gallon this spring – a costly pump price Americans have not paid since summer of 2015 when prices hit $2.81.
“Motorists will start to see gas prices make their spring spike in early April. That is when refinery maintenance is expected to be wrapped-up and the switchover to more expensive summer-blend gasoline kicks in along with warmer weather and typical demand increases,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “Consumers can expect prices to likely increase throughout April, May and into the start of summer and many may have to make decisions on where they can cut costs to cover gas prices that are potentially 40-cents more per gallon.”
A new AAA survey found the vast majority of consumers would change their driving habits or lifestyle to offset higher gas prices. One in four say they would start making changes at $2.75, while 40 percent say $3.00 is their tipping point. Changes consumers said they would make include combining errands or trips (79%), driving less (73%), reducing shopping or dining out (61%), delaying major purchases (50%) and driving more fuel-efficient vehicles (46%).
AAA does not expect the national gas price to be reminiscent of 2011-2014, when motorists were paying on average $3.47/gallon. While some states, like California, may see $4/gallon, it will be temporary.
Fuel Savings Tips
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s American Driving Survey, on average Americans drive 32 miles a day and spend 51 minutes behind the wheel. AAA offers a few ways to conserve fuel:
• Slow down. The faster you drive the more fuel you use. Every 5 mph over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.18 per gallon, according to the Department of Energy.
• Share work or school rides by carpooling or consider public transportation.
• Do not use your trunk for storage. The heavier your car, the more fuel it uses.
• Combine errands. If possible, park in a central spot and walk from place to place.
AAA expects summer gas prices to be just as expensive as spring prices, but with the potential that they may not increase at such a quick rate.
Heading into summer, a variety of factors including U.S. gasoline supply-demand levels, domestic gasoline production rates, and global crude demand will help better shape the summer forecast.
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 2.1 million members and the public with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.