Gas prices have reached an average of $4 a gallon nationwide, according to the Lundberg Survey, which takes a biweekly reading on fuel costs across the country.
Trilby Lundberg, the editor of the survey, says the average rose to $4 a gallon on May 6, an increase of about 12 cents from the previous survey.
With the next survey, prices may not top the record of $4.11 a gallon measured on July 11, 2008. Crude oil prices crashed last week to below $100 a barrel, while markets take into account a dramatic drop in the number of miles driven by Americans--the usual counterbalance to rises in gas prices.
Lundberg says that crude-oil drop could translate into a per-gallon price cut of between 8 and 12 cents in the next few weeks.
Some sources say gas prices could fall as much as 50 cents a gallon by mid-summer, but with China and India still booming, that could be temporary relief at best. Wholesale prices have been pushed higher in the past three years by oil spills and rising consumption in growing global economies. This year's upticks come from an entirely uncontrollable source--the civil unrest in major oil-producing nations in Africa and the Middle East, from Libya to Saudi Arabia.
Lundberg admits as much in his most recent release.
"We can't know what oil prices will do," he stated. "The main drivers of oil price increases have not gone away."
Nationwide, prices ranged from a low of $3.62 a gallon in Tucson, Arizona, to a high of $4.50 in Chicago.[Reuters via Yahoo! News]