AAA: Gas prices increase 17 cents in July

by: Torie Wells Updated:

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NORTH CAROLINA —

In North Carolina, the average price of gas is $3.41.  AAA representatives said Tuesday that the national average increased 17 cents in July. That is the largest increase for the month since 2000.

For the past three months, filling up was a little less painful, but now the trend has turned around, and drivers are taking notice.

"It shot on up all at once," said driver Esther Gillcrease. "I try to stay at home more."

"The only thing they can say is it is what it is," said another driver Charles Smith.

Tom Crosby with AAA blames the increase on tension in the Middle East and the global economy, especially in Europe.

"When the economy is bad, it helps keep our prices low.  They aren't consuming, and there's more supply than demand.  It helps us at the pump," Crosby said.

Crosby said the biggest factor is likely the summer driving season that was fueled by declining prices.

"We've seen an increase in driving this year," said Crosby.

"People who have pent up demand are starting to say, 'We're going to go out and drive because the prices are lower,'" he said.

Crosby said prices likely won't go back down in August, but they probably won't climb as steeply. Come September or October, as there is a transition to a less expensive blend, prices should go back down. Drivers we spoke with hope so.

"It's great news we need to see something now," said Gillcrease.

"Instead of saving for the trip, we have to save up now just for the gas," said driver Rashad Moore.