BY ANGIE JACKSON
TRAVERSE CITY — Motorists in Traverse City are paying close to 40 cents more per gallon of regular gas than they did last week.
Their pain at the pump is shared by drivers across Michigan, after the statewide average climbed 32 cents in one week, said AAA spokeswoman Nancy Cain.
Crude oil prices, up 14 percent since mid-December, are to blame, she said.
And if it offers any solace, “This isn’t just Michigan. This is worldwide,” Cain said.
Michigan’s average today was around $3.70 per gallon, said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst.
Traverse City hovered near the statewide average today with regular gas selling for an average of $3.71 a gallon, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.
The area average was $3.32 one week ago, the report shows.
Cain said it’s unusual for gas to skyrocket during a winter month. Maintenance at refineries resulting in less output is partially responsible, she said.
Keith Sutton put $10 of fuel in his van at the Speedway off Division Street near South Airport Road because that’s what he had in his pocket on Monday. He anticipates he will borrow gas money to finish the work week.
He expressed frustration at fluctuating gas prices that burden families.
“You can’t even budget for one week to the next when you get gas prices jumping like this,” Sutton said. “When you pay 80 bucks in gas, it comes out of your budget in food, utility bills. It’s hard.”
Nearby at Mutual Service Station, Aaron Siler fueled his snowplow truck and was grateful that diesel prices have been fairly stable.
The real pains, he said, come with filling his wife’s vehicle, which takes regular gasoline. She’s a stay-at-home mom and the couple arranges for her to drive less when gas prices spike.
Siler said he feels for people who live on a tight budget.
“It hurts us, but not as bad,” he said.
DeHaan predicted pump prices will level out somewhat, but probably not to the degree drivers would like.
Prices may retreat to $3.60 or $3.50 a gallon in the coming days, he said.
Cain said motorists should plan to spend a little more than they’re accustomed.
“Makes you want to drive a littler slower,” she said. “Ease up on the gas pedal and avoid those jack rabbit stops and starts.”
Go to Record-Eagle.com/gas for the latest information on gas prices in the Traverse City area.