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AAA: Ongoing tensions in Ukraine, travel season could make gas prices go up more

Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 7:07 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The pain at the pump is being felt across Virginia and the country as gas prices skyrocket because of the ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

That number at the pump has also risen over the past week as a result of rising prices for crude oil, which are going for about $111 to $112 per barrel.

AAA spokesperson Morgan Dean said the nationwide average price for gas rose to $3.83, increasing by 11 cents overnight.

According to Dean, gas prices in the Richmond area also rose by 14 cents overnight and those prices are likely to go up even more.

“There’s nothing in the really near future that holds a lot of promise for bringing gas prices down,” said Dean.

Dean said gas prices will continue to climb if the war in Ukraine continues.

“If we were to see any kind of sanctions that blocked Russia from putting it’s oil on the global market, those are the kinds of things that would continue to bring these prices up,” said Dean.

Dean also says the travel season plays another big factor in driving up these prices.

“We have the changeover from winter-blend gasoline to summer-blend gasoline happening in the next few weeks. That tends to push prices up 10 to 15 cents,” said Dean. “Spring break trips, which include people jumping in the car and heading to their trips, as well as getting on planes, that also uses fuel too. That’s higher demand.”

Dean said Virginia experienced their highest gas price average in July 2008 with $4.01 per gallon.

The skyrocketing prices are also met with frustrations from drivers like Reggie Sneed, who recently moved to Richmond from Ohio.

“It makes me feel kind of angry, you know,” he said. “I don’t even let it go past the half] point never because if I let it go past the half point, I’m putting $60 to $70 in here. Three months ago, I was putting in $30.”

Sneed said the rising gas prices are keeping him mindful of how he fills up his gas tank.

“For a middle-class person that’s gotta pay rent, put food on the table for his family, then you got to go to the pump and put gas, that’s a lot of money,” he said.

Dean advises drivers to fill up their cars when they’re down to a quarter of a tank.

AAA also has the following tips available for drivers to save on gas:

  • Get your vehicle checked out. Perform regular car maintenance at the intervals recommended by the vehicle manufacturer in the owner’s manual or as indicated by the in-car maintenance reminder system. Did you delay regular maintenance during the pandemic because you were driving less? Now is the time to get it looked at. Find a AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility here.
  • Keep tires properly inflated. Under-inflated tires can decrease your gas mileage by approximately 3 percent. Not to mention, properly inflated tires are safer and last longer. Check pressure in all four tires every two weeks with an accurate, hand-held air pressure gauge.
  • Know your octane. Do not purchase mid-grade or premium gas unless your owner’s manual specifically recommends it. According to AAA research, Americans waste more than $2.1 billion annually on premium gas in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. AAA found no benefit to using premium gas instead of regular-grade fuel. At the time of the study, 75% of U.S. drivers owned a vehicle that required only regular gasoline.
  • Avoid idling. Idling gets zero miles per gallon. Letting your vehicle idle for more than 10 seconds uses more gas than shutting it off and restarting. Don’t start your car until you are ready to go. The engine actually warms up more quickly once the car is operating, and will stay warm after stopping. Avoid drive-up windows - park and go inside instead.
  • Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.15 per gallon of gas. Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.
  • Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around.
  • Consolidate trips. Combining errands into one trip saves you time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multi-purpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. With a little planning, you can avoid retracing your route and reduce the distance you travel as well. You’ll not only save fuel, but also reduce wear and tear on your car.
  • Minimize drag. Drag reduces fuel efficiency. Driving with the windows open, using roof- or rear-mounted racks and carrying heavy loads increase vehicle drag. A roof rack or carrier provides additional cargo space and may allow you to meet your needs in a smaller, more fuel efficient car. However, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent. Reduce aerodynamic drag and improve your fuel economy by using a removable rack and placing items inside the trunk whenever possible. Avoid carrying unneeded items, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces a typical car’s fuel economy by 1-2 percent.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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