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Gas prices on the rise

Jennifer Sprouse • Feb 25, 2012 at 10:16 PM

Nationwide concern over a predicted spike in gasoline prices has many in our region worried over the cost of fueling their cars.

Don Lindsey, director of public affairs for AAA, said the speculation that gas prices will reach, or even go higher than, $5 a gallon is still too early to predict.

“Anybody that really predicts gasoline prices, with a confident air to them, are fooling themselves because they really don’t know what’s going to happen,” Lindsey said.

He said events overseas, such as the situation in Iran, will play a factor in the higher prices.

“We’re having this problem with Iran, which conceivably could mean some supply interruptions from that country,” Lindsey said. “But, the real issue there is not so much that there would be a supply interruption, because really everybody’s already anticipated that and figured it out.”

Speculation, Lindsey said, could also factor into the higher prices.

“That’s one of the reasons why we’re having such a high price, is that they are speculating there could be supply interruptions and so they bid the price up,” he said.

AAA tracks the average price of gas in an area from Wednesday to Wednesday each week, Lindsey said.

On AAA’s website, a news release issued on Wednesday said the average price of gas in Johnson City was $3.543. Compared to last week’s average of $3.457, also listed in release, Johnson City drivers have already seen a change in prices of $0.086.

Barry Puckett, a motorist who was fueling up at a local gas station Saturday, said he doesn’t fill his car up fully anymore because the prices are already so high.

“I get about a half a tank of gas and only go where I have to go,” he said.

Puckett said if prices do spike to $5 a gallon he doesn’t think they will stick around, but said prices could very easily end up being higher than they are now.

Lindsey said he also believes the high gas prices will decrease eventually.

“The one thing we can say about it is that it will change,” he said. “This will not last forever and how long it will last is anybody’s guess. But it will change.”

Lindsey said it is far-fetched to say people will not travel as much due to the high gas prices. He said consumers are continually adjusting to the gas prices by making good decisions, such as buying fuel-efficient vehicles and watching their overall use of gas by not moving around as often as they used to.

Lindsey said because consumers have become conscious of their gas consumption, the overall demand for gas is at a 10-year low in the U.S. and vacation travel has been on somewhat of an upswing.

“We’re learning to deal with this kind of reality that we’re in and if we can keep things fairly steady, we can deal with it very nicely,” he said. “But, it’s the constant change and the chaos that can be a real problem.”

While gas prices hang in limbo, Lindsey said predictions are all that can be made at this point.

“People have predicted $5 gasoline for the past several years and it hasn’t happened,” he said. “It’s not that it absolutely couldn’t happen, because this is gasoline ... but the likelihood is very, very slim.”

Lindsey gave tips on conserving gas, including removing any extra weight, driving at moderate speeds, and making sure tire pressure and the overall vehicle is in good shape.

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