Energy Economy

AAA Warns of Spring Gas Price Spike

Paul Ausick

The national average pump price for a gallon of regular gasoline Friday morning was about $2.54. That’s nearly six cents a gallon less than the average price one month ago. While not exactly unprecedented, falling gas prices in February and March are rare.

On Thursday, AAA reported that the national average price could reach $2.70 a gallon this spring, its highest level since 2015, when spring prices hit $2.81 a gallon.

AAA spokesperson Jeanette Casselano commented:

There is tremendous volatility in the oil and gasoline market. Crude oil is selling at high prices compared to previous years and domestic gasoline demand has been high most of the winter among the factors all driving gas prices up and draining consumers’ wallets. This spring, consumers may have to make decisions on where they can cut costs to cover gas prices that are potentially 40-cents more per gallon than last spring.

A year ago, a gallon of regular gas cost about $2.32 on average in the United States.

Gas prices are a big deal to consumers. A new AAA survey found that 25% of Americans would start changing their driving habits when gas rises to $2.75 a gallon, while 40% would make changes at $3.00. Those changes 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 noted that it does not expect to see gas prices reach the nearly $3.50 a gallon average U.S. consumers paid several years ago. Pump prices might rise to $4.00 a gallon in California this year, but only temporarily.

The AAA forecast for summer calls for pump prices to remain elevated at spring levels.