Americans Driving Less as Gas Prices Skyrocket

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Gas prices have hit a record high in April, as the the nationwide average for a gallon of gas hovers at $3.79 - the highest since 2008.

In just one week, gas prices jumped up 11 cents.

"It's definitely stressful to have to have it cut into my budget and worry about what I'm going to be able to do from week to week," motorists Lara Herrerman said.

Herrerman is not alone. A recent survey found that for five consecutive weeks Americans have purchased less fuel as fuel prices jump.
    
The cost of gas, however, is going up faster than people can cut back. Part of the reason for the hike is the Middle East uprisings and the yearly change to the summer blend of fuel.

"It's painful. You've got to make a decision on where you drive and where you go nowadays," motorist Lamar Magee said.

"I won't go hungry tomorrow," said Andrea Meyer of Manteno, Ill. "It's just taking away from me getting ahead faster. It throws off everything. It immediately makes you re-prioritize."

Experts say the price of fuel is unlikely to come down anytime soon, possibly hindering the nation's economic recovery.

"It's not going to take too much more of an increase in oil prices to start triggering these changes in consumption behavior," economist Chris Lafakis said.
    
Another economist said consumers tend to decrease their spending on other items by 5 percent for every dollar that gas prices rise.
    
The cost of fuel is already up about a dollar from this time last year. Summer gasoline demand is usually 5 percent higher, meaning even higher gas prices in the months ahead.

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