Drivers in Columbia are paying on average $3 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline - 51 cents more than a year ago.
Gas broke the $3 mark in Columbia on Tuesday and in South Carolina on Sunday, according to AAA Carolinas. Its a psychological flashpoint, spokesman Tom Crosby said.
When the price rises above $3, consumers will start to watch their spending and driving habits more closely, he said, including carpooling and driving slower.
If prices rise higher -- as predicted -- consumers will start making drastic changes, he said, such as buying hybrid cars and postponing trips.
At $4, they plan their day around their car and how much gas they are going to consume, Crosby said.