(AP) – June 9, 2008 - The average price of regular gas crept up to $4 a gallon for the first time over the weekend, passing the once-unthinkable milestone just in time for the peak summer travel season.
Prices at the pump are expected to keep climbing, especially after last week's furious surge in oil prices, which neared $140 a barrel in a record-shattering rally Friday.
While Americans who have to drive will feel the biggest squeeze, the increased prices also translate into higher costs for consumers and businesses, who will be forced to shoulder increased costs for food and anything else that needs to be transported.
"I don't think we've felt quite the full impact of $138 or $139 a barrel oil," said Jason Toews, co-founder of fuel price research site GasBuddy.com.Gas prices rolled past their latest threshold Sunday, increasing to $4.005 a gallon overnight from $3.988 the day before, according to AAA and the Oil Price Information Service.
Of course, drivers in many parts of the country have already been paying well above that price for some time.
California has seen some of the highest prices; a gallon there now averages $4.436 a gallon, the most in the country. Missourians are paying the least at the pump, with a gallon in the Show-Me State selling for a relatively cheap $3.802 a gallon.
Prices have risen by about 20 cents in the past three weeks, according to a report by the Lundberg Survey released Sunday.
Truckers and others with diesel engines under the hood have it even worse off. A gallon of diesel now sells for $4.762, up nearly a penny overnight, according to AAA and OPIS. Prices hit a record atop $4.79 at the end of May.
Skyrocketing oil prices, which are trading at more than double their level last year, are largely to blame for the surge. Crude prices shot up more than 13 percent late last week in their biggest two-day price gain in history.