Gasoline. This eight letter word represents the fuel that gets us to work every day, but it also represents a source of anxiety for many vehicle owners. Gas prices keep rising, and there aren’t many signs of relief.
According to AAA, the current national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.51, up from $2.75 one year ago. “Gasoline prices across the nation rose 33 cents a gallon on average the past two weeks,” adds USA Today, “prompting some analysts to fret that pump prices could soon hit the $4-a-gallon psychological barrier and stall the USA's nascent economic recovery.”
Analysts have predicted that gasoline could reach five dollars a gallon by 2012, but they didn’t predict prices would climb this quickly. “Prices for 2011 were already supposed to be some of the highest ever,” Kicking Tires explains, “but because of unrest caused by uprisings in Middle East countries — especially Libya — speculative trading may send oil prices soaring past even the most pessimistic expectations.”
USA Today spoke with Jim Ritterbusch of Ritterbusch and Associates, an oil trading advisory firm in Galena, Ill. Jim Ritterbusch is also concerned about the crisis in Libya and states, “‘Gas prices are being pulled up by crude prices, which relates to the situation in Libya. During this past weekend, the fighting intensified. When fighting intensifies, it creates an image of this being extended for a month or longer.’”
Another country to monitor is Saudi Arabia. “However, the elephant in the room is Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer with its deeply repressive, undemocratic government and slow-boiling societal tensions,” writes Kicking Tires. “Facebook groups have cropped up, promising protests this week and calling for a ‘day of rage.’ In response, the Saudi government has banned protests and drafted more troops to enforce it.”
In hope of counteracting rising oil prices, USA today says the “Obama administration is considering deploying the USA's 727 million-barrel strategic oil reserves to ease prices, William Daley, White House chief of staff, told NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday.”
With these events out of our control, it’s easy to feel helpless as you watch gasoline prices increase week to week. There are, however, a few things you can do to save money at the pump. AAA says, “Your choice of vehicle, how it's maintained and where and how you drive are the most important factors in conserving fuel and staying safe behind the wheel. To conserve, motorists must slow down and find ways to do more with less.”
If you can, invest in a smaller car with good fuel economy. However, if an additional bill doesn’t suit your budget, some of the best ways to conserve gasoline are to change your driving habits. For example, drive the speed limit and decelerate to a stop rather than accelerate and stop abruptly. You can also consolidate your outings. Complete all your errands at once rather than take multiple short trips to the grocery store or bank. If you can, car pool. Not only will you save money on gas, but you’ll also decrease wear and tear on your car.