Gas prices skyrocket over winter break



Maranda Shrewsberry

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Gas station signs bearing high fuel prices are difficult to ignore, causing drivers everywhere frustration when it’s time to fill up. Prices soared to more than $3 in the last couple weeks and do not show signs of receding.

The average price for a gallon of regular, unleaded gas in Kent last week was $3.092, which is five cents less than the previous week’s average of $3.146, said Beverly Powell, AAA East Central director of communications.

Despite the high fuel prices, holiday travel increased, Powell said. She said holiday vacations in winter and spring tend to be high traveling times.

“They continue to take those (trips) regardless of gas prices,” she said.

Daily trips can be difficult for families though, Powell said, suggesting motorists combine trips and keep an eye out for the cheapest fuel prices in different areas.

“It makes it tough for families on their daily commute because it does take a big portion of their daily budgets,” she said.

As of Sunday, national average prices for regular fuel was $3.088, ten cents higher than December’s average of $2.989, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. A year ago, the national average was $2.737.

Sophomore zoology major Ryan O’Connor said he would like to see prices below $3 again. O’Connor said he spends most of his paycheck on gas for his Grand Cherokee, nearly $50 to fill it three quarters of the way. He said that lasts about five days.

“It’s a gas guzzler,” he said.

O’Connor said he would buy a smaller car if he could to help with gas prices. For now he said he tries to put as little money he can toward gas but has found another way to pay.

“I drive people around to make extra money,” O’Connor said.

Senior English major Stephanie Ingram also said she is not happy about the high gas prices. She said she puts about $20 worth of gas in her 1993 Saturn once or twice a week.

“I don’t necessarily fill it all the way,” she said. “I put maybe $10 or $20 depending on how much money I made.”

Ingram said current prices are better than they were in the past.

“I remember when it was almost $4 a gallon,” she said. “That was worse.”

The highest recorded national average regular fuel price was $4.114 on July 17, 2008, according to AAA’s report.

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for, a site that sends alerts to subscribers about gas prices in their communities, said prices could increase to around $4.05 in May. He said the economy plays a big part in gas prices because people have more money to spend.

“As long as the economy continues to improve, gasoline prices will continue to rise,” he said.

He said gas prices in the U.S., particularly in the Midwest region, fluctuate because of what he calls “the Speedway effect.” Speedway has over 1,000 stations in three states, DeHaan said, causing them to have market control.

He said when wholesale prices of fuel are high, Speedway raises prices to make a profit. Most stations raise their prices a few cents daily, but Speedway does it about once a week and competitors follow, DeHaan said.

“Speedway chooses to surpass about a week of increase in one day,” he said.

After Speedway makes a profit, they decrease prices, like a roller coaster. DeHaan said. There are both pros and cons to this method for motorists who can catch on.

“If they don’t plan their prices right, they can pay $3.19 a gallon,” he said.

DeHaan said e-mail alerts, like the ones from, are beneficial when planning. Among other tips to be fuel-efficient is change driving habits.

“If everybody were to drive 5 miles less a day, that would make a huge difference,” he said.

Another way to save money on both gas and a speeding ticket is to drive the speed limit, DeHaan said. He said cleaning could also help.

“Every 100 pounds that you remove from your car could save 1-2 miles per gallon,” he said.

Contact Maranda Shrewsberry at [email protected].