Gas prices are skyrocketing, with no apparent end in sight.
In a two-week period since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the average price for a gallon of gas climbed 73 cents a gallon in Florida; oil prices climbed $32 a barrel and the price to fill an average-sized tank of gas was $63, compared to $41 a year ago, according to Mark Jenkins, AAA (American Automobile Association) spokesman.
The 73-cent boost within two weeks is the largest increase in two weeks that AAA has recorded since it began tracking gas prices in 2000, Jenkins said, via email.
The average price around the state on March 11 was $4.378 per gallon. That shatters the previous record of $4.08 per gallon, set back in July 2008, according to AAA figures.
The crisis in Ukraine has prompted President Joe Biden to stop the import of Russian oil and that comes at a time when the United States is experiencing its highest rate of inflation in 40 years.
Motorists are feeling the pain at the pump.
“I live in Saint Mary with my sister in her house,” freelance construction worker Victor Reyes said, while filling up his truck and at least four gas containers, at a Pasco County gas station.
The price at the pump was $4.39 a gallon for unleaded 87.
“I used to go home every night. Now, I just go home on Saturdays. I sleep on the construction site because gas, it’s too expensive.
“There’s nothing else I can do,” he said.
Zach Perry, a traveling salesman from Tampa, said he has to drive for work, so he’s stuck with the higher prices.
“My gas budget has doubled, but there’s nothing I can do about it,” Perry said, while filling up at a Lutz gas station.
The cost of gas also is influencing what people do with their leisure time.
“I don’t go anywhere anymore — at least now with these prices,” said Brooke Miller, a retired Air Force veteran who lives in Land O’ Lakes. “I go to the grocery store and I go home. I used to meet up with people to do some quilting at the community center, but I’m not going to do that anymore. We’ll probably have to quilt together on Zoom now.”
Despite the high prices, some gas stations experienced lines at the pump last week. In some cases, customers were filling up containers to avoid the prospect of paying more.
“We’ve got lines running out of the parking lot and into the street, and blocking traffic,” the gas manager at Costco in Lutz, Jordan Cass, said. “That’s leading to a lot of tense situations or unhappy customers, but just everyone needs gas. Sure, its members and they get a discount, but the demand here (at Costco) has, if anything, gotten higher.”
On average, Costco receives four shipments of gas regularly, but that has ballooned to six a day in recent weeks, Cass said. “We can’t keep it in the tanks,” he said, sounding slightly exasperated.
Drivers are frustrated, too. “When you gotta drive, you gotta drive,” Perry said. “And you need gas to drive. Guessing we’ll be stuck with high prices for a while.”
Gas prices soaring
Here’s a look at average gas prices on March 11, as tracked by AAA (American Automobile Association):
National average: $4.331
Florida average: $4.378
Hillsborough County retail prices:$4.399-$4.92
Pasco County retail prices: $4.384-$4.398
Tampa/St Pete/Clearwater: $4.40, regular; $4.734, mid-grade; $5.027 premium; $5.122, diesel
The previous record in Florida was $4.08 per gallon, set in July 2008.
- Tires & maintenance: Keep your vehicle in top shape through routine inspections; in between, be sure your tires are properly inflated.
- Plan ahead: Map your route before you go, to minimize unnecessary turnarounds and backtracking. Avoid peak traffic times. Combine errands.
- Watch your speed: Fuel economy peaks at around 50 mph on most cars, then drops off as speeds increase. Reducing highway speeds by 5 mph to 10 mph can increase fuel economy by as much as 14%.
- Avoid excessive idling: A car engine consumes one-quarter to one-half gallon of fuel per hour when idling. A warm engine only takes around 10 seconds worth of fuel to restart. When it is safe, shut off your engine when you will be stopped for more than 1 minute.
- Use “fast pass” or “express” toll lanes: Avoiding unnecessary stops or slowdowns on the highway helps save fuel.
- Avoid rush hour: You’ll use less gas if you’re not stuck in traffic jams.
- Anticipate road conditions: Pay attention to what’s happening on the road to maintain momentum and avoid unnecessary stop-and-go travel.
- Purchase recommended fuel type: If regular gas is recommended for your vehicle, that’s all you need. Opting for premium when your car doesn’t requireit will cost more and won’t boost efficiency.
- Shop around & save: There are apps and websites that will help you find the best prices.
B.C. Manion contributed to this article.
Published March 13, 2022