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Surge in gas prices is not over yet

Feb 23, 2011 7:06:00 AM - thestate.com
Drivers in Columbia are paying an average of $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. “It’s 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, and will be more likely to carpool and drive 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.

That, in turn, could slow consumer spending and the economic recovery.