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Pain at the pump: Gas prices rising

5/6/2004

by Mark Vasto
Landmark reporter

Conventional wisdom states that there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. Week after week, however, area consumers have come to expect another certainty – an increase in prices at the pump.

Gas prices have continued to rise steadily in recent months in the Kansas City area. In Platte City alone, the average price of regular unleaded gasoline has skyrocketed to $1.76 per gallon – a hike of 20 percent compared to prices of a year ago.

“There is no good news for the consumer relative to the price of gas,” said Mike Wright, vice president of public affairs for AAA Missouri. Wright said that crude oil prices by the barrel are 50 percent higher then they were last year and that wholesale gas prices have climbed to over $1.20, “to which you add state and federal taxes plus shipping.”

Wright also commented on other factors affecting the price of gasoline. Refinery operations are severely lacking in America, making it necessary to rely on outside sources for the majority of our consumption needs. With America at war, the problems are exacerbated.

“Some of the places where we depend on are not that stable. Anytime you see an upset or any sort of anxiety on the part of the buyers you will see those prices go up,” Wright explained. “I’ve never seen the prices of crude oil remain this high for this long and that doesn’t bode well for us.”

And Wright, who has spent more than 30 years analyzing such trends, says prices will continue to rise and he speculated that the Kansas City area will break their all-time high of $1.79 a gallon, which the city set in the year 2000.

“You’ll break that,” Wright predicted. “St. Louis just broke their all time high…many states have. The national average is $1.82, and everyday is a new record.”
Despite the near weekly increases, Wright said that he has received “surprisingly little” feedback from AAA members.

“When you don’t have gasoline, you’re willing to spend anything you can to get it. We’re a gasoline-dependent society.”

AAA Missouri offers the following tips for drivers wanting to conserve fuel:

·If you own more than one car - especially if one of your vehicles is a less fuel-efficient truck, SUV or van - use the more energy-conserving vehicle as often as possible.

·Consolidate trips and errands to cut down on driving time and keep needless miles off the odometer.

·Find one location where you can take care of all banking, grocery shopping and other chores. “Comparison shop” by phone, online or through newspaper advertisements.

·Slow down. The faster a vehicle travels, the more gas it burns. Driving faster than posted speed limits is dangerous and increases stress. Leave enough time to reach your destination at a proper speed.

·Avoid quick starts and sudden stops. This wastes fuel, is harder on vehicle components and increases the odds of a traffic crash.

·Routinely maintain your vehicle. Keeping tires inflated, moving components properly lubricated and ignition and emission systems operating properly will help your vehicle achieve maximum fuel economy and extend its useful life.

·Lighten the load. Don’t haul extra weight in the passenger compartment, trunk or cargo area of your vehicle. A heavier vehicle uses more gasoline.

·Check your vehicle owner’s manual. If your vehicle does not require premium or mid-grade fuel, purchase less expensive regular unleaded gas.

·Shop for low gasoline prices locally, but don’t waste gas driving to a distant filling station to save a few cents.

 
 

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