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published: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Gas prices won't drop below $3 anytime soon, AAA says
If it seems hard to remember the last time gas was under $3 per gallon, there's a good reason. And don't expect those fond memories to become reality again any time soon.
The national average price of gasoline will surpassed $3 per gallon Tuesday for the 1,000th consecutive day for the first time on record, according a report from AAA. The current streak began on Dec. 23, 2010, and AAA forecasts the national average will remain above $3 per gallon for at least another 1,000 days barring a major economic recession.
"Florida gas prices reached $3 a gallon on December 22, 2010, just one day sooner than the national average," said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman, The Auto Club Group. "While Florida motorists may get lucky and occasionally pay less than $3 per gallon in the future, $2 gas prices are mostly a thing of the past."
Monday's national average was $3.52 per gallon. Gas prices on average have remained above $3.50 per gallon for the majority of days during the current streak, and AAA projects the national average will remain higher than $3.50 per gallon in the coming days. Since the current streak began, consumers will have paid a national average of:
-- $3.25 per gallon or higher for 913 total days
-- $3.50 per gallon or higher for 643 total days
-- $3.75 per gallon or higher for 189 total days
An informal survey of gasoline customers in Sebring shows drivers don't like gas prices, but are learning to live with them.
Arnold Belcher, 75, of Sebring said he wasn't surprised at all to hear prices had stayed high.
"It's a hardship on everybody," Belcher said. "When you've got to go (somewhere), you've got to go. You have to keep moving."
T.J. Morrow, 60, of Sebring said she feels "pre-programmed" to see anything below $3.50 per gallon as a bargain.
"But I don't actually feel like it," Morrow said.
A bank officer who usually commutes less than 10 miles per day, Morrow said she thinks twice about making certain trips, runs as many errands as possible on each trip and has watched her speed.
She also said she used to drive sports cars for her daily transportation: Camaros and Corvettes. Now she drives a 2004 Ford Taurus.
John Robinson, 54, of Sebring said when the cost gets to high to drive his Chevy Silverado pickup -- at 13 miles per gallon -- he rides his Harley-Davidson RoadKing, which gets 35-38 mpg.
Other than that, Robinson said he "hadn't really noticed" prices had stayed high.
"When it jumps up 13 cents and then drops down, I don't get (that)," Robinson said.
He was filling up his Silverado Tuesday, with a trailer holding a riding mower in tow. He said the gasoline-powered mower helps him cut his 1 1/2-acre property.
Ruth Short, a home health nurse from Sebring, said many of her senior patients haven't been able to drive to get groceries because they can't afford it.
She said she's on the road five days per week, but also gets mileage reimbursement as part of her job.
Gas prices first surged above $3 per gallon for eight days immediately following Hurricane Katrina from Sept. 3-10, 2005. The longest previous streak above $3 per gallon was for 244 days from Feb. 17-Oct.17, 2008. The national average fell below $3 per gallon for 796 days from Oct. 18, 2008-Dec. 22, 2010 due to a weaker economy, which demands less gasoline and oil. The national average tomorrow will have remained above $3.25 per gallon for 265 consecutive days.
The national average price of gas so far this year is $3.57 per gallon. In Florida, it is $3.55, but this average should drop through December as demand declines during cooler months. Last year was the most expensive year on record with an annual average of $3.60 per gallon ($3.57 in Florida), followed by an annual average of $3.51 per gallon in 2011 ($3.50 in Florida). The average U.S. household in 2012 spent $2,912 on gasoline, or just under four percent of income before taxes, according to the Energy Information Administration.
The most expensive daily national average during the current streak was $3.98 per gallon on May 5, 2011. In Florida the most expensive was $3.97 on April 7, 2012. The lowest daily national average was $3.01 per gallon on December 23, 2010. In Florida, it was $3.01 on December 22, 2010.
Forty-six percent of adults believe gas is too high when it reaches $3 per gallon, according to a consumer index developed by AAA. Sixty-two percent believe gas is too high when it reaches $3.50 per gallon and 90 percent believe gas is too high when it reaches $4 per gallon.
Sixty-two percent of Americans reported offsetting high gas prices by changing their driving habits or lifestyle.
AAA updates fuel price averages daily at www.FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com.
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