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Drivers frustrated over soaring gas prices in Georgia

Higher demand and rising crude oil prices are contributing to surging costs at the pump, according to experts.

ATLANTA — Reneta Allen is just trying to make ends meet. She works two jobs and faces an hour's worth of driving everyday. Just in the last few weeks, filling up at the pump is testing her budget. 

"These prices are too high," Allen said. "It makes me feel like it's a never-ending story. The price of eggs is sky high. The price of gas is sky high. Rent is sky high." 

Cameron Smith said he filled up about twice a week but said unless gas gets to around $5 or more, he will keep driving like normal. 

"I get premium too, so I ain't tripping because I know I gotta get back and forth," Smith said. "But it did go up a lot. You can tell the difference. But I gotta put gas in the car, you know what I’m saying?”

The national average for a gallon of regular gas is $3.50 according to AAA. Georgia's average is around $3.39 a gallon, and the same goes for Metro Atlanta. Just a month ago, the state average stood at $2.70 a gallon. 

Earlier this month, Gov. Brian Kemp reinstated the now 31-cent gas tax that was previously in effect for the better part of a year. AAA spokesperson Montrae Waiters said rising crude oil prices, which account for almost half of gas prices, are also driving prices up overall. 

"Demand has gone up," Waiters said. "For the last three weeks, during the latter part of the holiday season, we were dealing with a lot of bad weather. Travel was down. Right now, this market is so fluid. We don't know what gas prices are going to look like from week to week."

Waiters said it's likely gas prices will go down in the next month or so, with demand expected to drop. They could shoot up once more by spring and summer when many families typically go on vacation. 

"Atlanta a year ago was coming in, around this time, at $3.19," Waiters said. "Right now, we’re maybe trending maybe 19 to 20 cents ahead of what we were this time last year. We’re not looking at $4 gas prices within the next week or month.”

Georgia's still a long way off from touching its record high of $4.50 a gallon, which was reached last June. 

Still, for those like Reneta Allen looking for relief, AAA recommends driving more slowly, making sure tires are properly inflated and cleaning out the car to dump excess weight that could burn more fuel. There are apps designed to look for the cheapest gas prices in one's area.  

"If I had the money I would fill all the way up," Allen said. "But I can't afford it. 20 here, 20 there, just here and there. Every little penny, you have to wonder if I’m going to put this much for gas, put this much for food, lights, gas, insurance. I try to fill up what I can and try to make it stretch to the next time I can go.”

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