Gas at historic price for time of year

Posted at 7:58 PM, Feb 20, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-21 07:46:20-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The next time you fill up at the pump, you may experience sticker shock. Experts say $3.49 a gallon is the highest ever for this time of year.

"We should start complaining," said Amanda Riffe. "Paying gas prices is a necessity but it's pretty bad."

She and her husband spend $900 a month to travel from King William county to Richmond for work.

"I think they're outrageous.  I really do," said Amanda Riffe, "it's hard to make ends meet."

Dr. David Urban, Executive Associate Director of VCU's School of Business, said that the prices have spiked as a"reflection of a variety of things that's going on on the world over. "

"Whether it's decreasing supply, decreasing production, threats of potential violence in the Middle East."

Urban believes that, given the economic climate, high gas prices will cause a trickledown effect and effect people's behavior.

"Every time you go to the gas pump, every time you look at the gallon of gas that you're purchasing and how much it costs," said Dr. Urban.  "That is a continual reminder that the economy is not as strong as we may think."

And since we're months away from the peak travel season, Urban says that's not a good sign.

"That's when people really start noticing the increases in the prices to the extent where it will cause them to change their behavior," Urban added.

And some drivers we spoke with are moving in that direction.

"I try to get what I can and don't make as many trips," said Riffe.

"We try to car pool sometimes," said Diego Espinosa.  "Not go out as often."

Some drivers are new cyclist converts, like Nicholas McNair who bought a bike to save some cash.

"It's just easier, it's less costly and it's more efficient really, and you get a great work out while you're saving money," said McNair.

We spoke with a travel agent who says some people are opting to drive instead of fly for Spring Break vacations because the high cost of fuel is increasing the airline fares.

Experts say you can stretch your dollar while filling up at the pump by planning your trips ahead of time, making sure to tune up your car, and drive the speed limit.  Because the faster you go, the more gas you burn.