Gas Prices Expected to Hike for Summer

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Gasoline prices have fallen slightly in recent days, but don't let the drop fool you.

The Energy Department predicts drivers will pay an average 24 cents more per gallon during the summer driving season. That's an average increase of 6.3 percent from last year's summer season.

Experts say gas prices will hit their peak in May, averaging about $4.01 per gallon. Prices at the pump tend to peak shortly before Memorial Day.

Soaring gasoline prices are causing a corresponding drop in fuel consumption, which is expected to be down by 5 percent this summer compared with last summer.

High prices are also driving strong sales of gas-saving vehicles like the Toyota Prius.

As prices hover around the $4 mark, the kinds of summer vacations Americans take are likely to be affected. If the high gas prices persist into the fall, they could play a big role in national elections in November.

Some analysts, however, disagree with the government's prediction of higher prices and even say the national average could drop to around $3.70 next month. That's about 20 cents lower than the current average.

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