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Gas prices expected to top $4 soon

After increasing 13 cents over the last month, gasoline prices are expected to continue to climb in North Carolina and could reach the $4 per gallon mark this month, AAA Carolinas predicts.
This weekend’s Easter holiday isn’t a traditionally heavy travel weekend, however, April typically signals increased gasoline prices as refineries do their heaviest maintenance of the year as they switch over to summer-blend production, reducing supply, and as motorists begin driving more, increasing demand.
The average price for a gallon of unleaded self-serve gasoline in North Carolina on Monday was $3.89. A month ago today North Carolina’s average price was $3.75.
“No one can predict with certainty what will happen to gasoline prices this travel season,” said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas.
“But we are currently paying 30 cents more per gallon this Easter than last year and 92 cents more a gallon than two years ago. The price per gallon has inched upward by pennies nearly every day since the beginning of 2012. This trend shows that we could see $4 gas in North Carolina this month.”
The Asheville area has the highest priced gasoline in North Carolina at $3.94; Fayetteville has the cheapest at $3.79.
The rise in oil prices in 2012 has been driven by global news, including geopolitical tension with Iran, oil speculation and signs of economic recovery both domestically and abroad. Closer to home, an 8 cent increase in North Carolina’s fuel tax at the beginning of 2012 is further adding to the rise in gas prices.
“We expect prices to increase into May,” said Parsons. “The good news is that in the past two years we saw a stabilization or reduction of gas prices once we get into the summer months. We hope that scenario repeats itself again this year.”
AAA of the Carolinas releases its travel predictions, including gas price information, ahead of the following holidays: Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Motorists looking for ways to conserve gasoline for holiday or simple day-to-day travel should keep the following tips in mind:
• Buy the least expensive in your zip code, which can be found on www.aaa.com/travel. Gasoline is federally regulated and virtually identical blends at different stations.
• Monitor driving behavior, follow the speed limit and avoid accelerating or decelerating quickly. For every 5 miles per hour over 65 mph, gasoline efficiency decreases 10 percent.
• Make sure tires are properly inflated.
• Keep vehicles properly maintained, including scheduled oil changes and air filter replacements. Consult your owner’s manual for specific instructions.
• Avoid excess weight in your vehicle. When vacationing, try to avoid strapping luggage on the roof where it causes drag and reduces fuel economy.
• Whenever possible, consolidate trips.
AAA Carolinas, an affiliate of the American Automobile Association, is a not-for-profit organization that serves more than 1.8 million members with travel, automobile and insurance services while being an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.

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