Gasoline Tops $3 a Gallon for 1,000 Straight Days

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It is the sort of record that most people would wish had never been set. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States has cost an average of at least $3.00 a gallon for the past 1,000 consecutive days — for the first time ever.

Gasoline last cost less than that on December 22, 2010. If the AAA is right, the next thousand days will not see the price drop below $3.00 a gallon. Bob Darbelnet, president and CEO of the AAA, said:

Paying less than $3.00 per gallon for gasoline may be automotive history for most Americans, like using 8-track tapes or going to a drive-in movie.The reality is that expensive gas is here to stay, which is tough on millions of people who need a car to live their lives. While a few lucky drivers may occasionally pay less than $3.00 per gallon, the national average is likely to remain more costly into the future.

Since January, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline has been $3.57. That should come down in the final few months of the year as demand drops. The full-year average in 2012 was $3.60 a gallon, the highest cost on record, according to the AAA.

An average U.S. household spent more than $2,900 on gasoline in 2012, about 4% of pretax income.

Darbelnet noted:

Spending more on gas concerns consumers because it reduces savings and spending for everything else we need. Our leaders can help alleviate this economic burden by encouraging a national policy that stimulates production, limits price volatility, ensures greater efficiency and promotes alternative energy.

Some 46% of U.S. drivers think that more than $3.00 a gallon for gasoline is too much, AAA data show. When the price tops $3.50 a gallon, 62% think gasoline is too expensive. A full 90% believe $4.00 a gallon is too expensive. When gasoline prices are believed to be too high, 62% of Americans say they cope with higher fuel prices by changing their driving habits or lifestyle. It looks like more of us will be doing that in the future.

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