Drivers may still feel some sticker shock at the pump, but higher gasoline prices appear to be the new normal.
Tuesday will mark the 1,000th consecutive day that the average national gasoline price has exceeded $3 per gallon, according to AAA. The national motor club says the streak began on Dec. 23, 2010 and has settled at about $3.50 per gallon or more for most of the time since.
International demand for the fuel has continued to grow even as U.S.demand has fallen.
“Paying less than $3 per gallon for gasoline may be automotive history for most Americans, like using 8-track tapes or going to a drive-in movie,” said Bob Darbelnet, president and CEO of AAA, in a written statement. “The reality is that expensive gas is here to stay, which is tough on millions of people who need a car to live their lives. While a few lucky drivers may occasionally pay less than $3.00 per gallon, the national average is likely to remain more costly into the future.”
Cheaper gas: Gas for $1.52 in the heart of Houston
Houston drivers paid an average of $3.30 for a gallon of regular gasoline on Monday, significantly less than the $3.65 they were paying a year ago.
Nationally, gasoline prices averaged $3.52 per gallon on Monday, but should decline slightly through the end of the year as demand for transportation fuel declines during fall and winter, AAA said.
However, the decline may be offset by concerns about a possible U.S. military response in Syria. Those concerns have helped push domestic benchmark crude oil to $110 a barrel, up from $92 at the beginning of 2013.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the national average gasoline price fell below $3 per gallon for 796 days starting Oct. 18, 2008. But prices have risen as the economy stabilized, with the average exceeded $3.75 per gallon for nearly 200 days since Dec. 2010.
The national average hasn’t tipped $4 during that time, according AAA.
Global market: US gasoline, diesel exports nearing record again
In a AAA consumer index, almost two-thirds of Americans say they have changed their lifestyle as a result of higher gas prices. The index also found that 90 percent of Americans believe gas is too high when it reaches $4.00 per gallon.
Darbelnet said national policies encouraging production and greater fuel efficiency can help reduce future price spikes.
Also on FuelFix: