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Higher gas prices expected to stick through the new year, experts predict

Phoenix’s average price right now is close to $3.78/gallon, according to AAA and Gas Buddy, which is about 40 cents higher than the national average.

PHOENIX — If you’ve hit the road lately, you’ve probably noticed gas prices are soaring.

Some spots in the Valley are getting close to $4 per gallon and people hitting the road need to buckle up because we’re likely going to be riding with these prices through the holidays.

Drivers have been funneling more money into their gas budgets for the past several weeks. Phoenix’s average price right now is close to $3.78 per gallon, according to AAA and Gas Buddy, which is about 40 cents higher than the national average.  And it's hard to believe where prices were last year.

"We’re now a $1.50 higher than a year ago," said Patrick De Haan, an analyst with Gas Buddy.

De Haan explained that the pandemic is to blame, in part.  Last year's lows are attributed to less travel and less demand for gas.

As for what’s driving up the price now?

"The largest contributor to why gas prices are going up is the cost of crude oil," explained Aldo Vazquez, a spokesperson for Arizona AAA.

Crude oil prices are up from $60 per barrel to $80 per barrel since August, according to Vazquez.  And with more people hitting the road after the pandemic kept people in last year, demand for oil is way higher. This means gas prices will be, too.

"As long as we continue to see these types of prices for crude oil, motorists can expect to be paying more at the pump," Vazquez said.

The better news? Prices at the pumps could be reaching a plateau.

"We don’t anticipate any major jumps ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday and any kind of increases we’ve been seeing, have actually started to slow down," Vazquez shared.

On the downside, experts aren't expecting any significant drops anytime soon.

"We may be stuck with these higher prices through the end of the year," De Haan said.

A tip from Gas Buddy: use an app to compare prices before you hit the pump, especially if you’re driving out of state. But the best advice is to cut back on driving altogether.

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