For yet another year, drivers in Central Illinois are seeing the highest gas price ever. (photo by Zach Dietmeier/WJBC)
By Zach Dietmeier
BLOOMINGTON - A recent study shows Americans are paying more at the pump this year than ever before heading into December. GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Anyalist Patrick DeHaan calculates the national average for 2012 at $3.63 per gallon, up 12 cents from last year.
"It doesn't sound like a huge change, but for the average American it could mean spending triple digits more on gas through the whole year," said DeHaan.
The national average would have to drop to $2.35 per gallon for the rest of the year in order to drop below last year's record high. GasBuddy added that Illinois prices could see a drop over the next month as winter arrives and holiday travel declines.
"However, that kind of a drop appears very unlikely," said DeHaan. "It would also mean we would probably have seen a catastrophic economic collapse."
According to DeHaan, the economy and uncertainty over the looming fiscal cliff are the largest factors in increases locally. The recovery and the current economy create a double edged sword where gas prices are concerned.
"There's been a lot of talk about the end of the year," said DeHaan. "The situation could certainly be very dire if no solution is reached. That certainly could mean gas prices would move significantly lower but at great cost."
As for the holiday travel and shopping season, prices aren't actually higher. The perceived increase comes from a growing awareness among motorists this time of year.
"Typically, at least for last year and several previous years, prices have a tendancy to go down between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays," said DeHaan. "Prices may be a little cheaper the closer we get to Christmas, but it likely won't be as big a drop as we saw in 2011."