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AAA: Gas Has Been Over $3 a Gallon for 1,000 Days and Counting

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By Michelle Smith   |   Tuesday, 17 Sep 2013 10:37 AM

U.S. gas prices have set a record — spending 1,000 consecutive days above $3 a gallon. This level, AAA warns, may be the new norm.

Gas prices have fluctuated but AAA points out that, on average, Americans have not paid less than $3 per gallon since Dec. 23, 2010.

Monday, the national average was $3.52 per gallon and prices have been above $3.50 for over half of this 1,000-day streak.

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U.S. gas prices climbed above $3 per gallon for the first time after Hurricane Katrina struck in September 2005. In 2008, gas crossed over that mark again and remained above it for most of the year. Then, a weaker economy drove gas prices back down from October 2008 through December 2010, according to AAA.

"Paying less than $3.00 per gallon for gasoline may be automotive history for most Americans, like using 8-track tapes or going to a drive-in movie," says Bob Darbelnet, CEO of AAA.

"The reality is that expensive gas is here to stay," he adds.

Despite this long-running price trend, many Americans still find the current prices painful. According to a consumer index from AAA, nearly half of adults consider $3 per gallon expensive, and well over half deemed $3.50 per gallon to be too high.

Americans do not idly complain about gas prices. Data show that as motorists spend more for fuel, they either alter their driving habits or make other lifestyle changes to offset the cost.

But as USA Today points out, one bright side is that gas prices have yet to hit a national average over $4 per gallon in the last 1,000 days.

Prices have eased by a nickel since last week and are about 35 cents cheaper than at this same time last year, according to the AAA data.

Some are looking for prices to soften further as the prospects of a U.S. military strike on Syria fade and the winter months approach, curbing demand. Still, AAA warns Americans can only expect so much relief.

A $3 per gallon price floor is likely to be the new reality unless there's another recession, the organization projects.

But it doesn't have to be that way, according to Darbelnet.

"Our leaders can alleviate this burden this economic burden by encouraging a national policy that stimulates production, limits price volatility, ensures greater efficiency and promotes alternative energy," he explains.

Patrick DeHaan of the group-sourced gas price-reporting site GasBuddy.com says gas prices could moderate now that the possible attack on Syria is diminishing.

"The market took a chill pill and is reacting as I would expect to the prospect of a peaceful resolution," he explains. "I could see the national average in the very low $3 [a gallon range] by the time we're talking about last minute Christmas shopping."

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