Gas prices up 11 cents; drivers feel the pinch

Carey Stewart notices when gas prices spike. The owner of an automotive repair company drives a massive white GMC Yukon, which costs about $90 to fuel.

On Monday, he was surprised to see unleaded fuel selling for a whopping $3.05 a gallon at a Sandy Springs Chevron. The average price of regular unleaded has hit $2.83 in Georgia, up 11 cents from last week. The national average is $2.93, up 7 cents.

"I know crude oil prices have gone up, but I don't understand why it has happened all of a sudden," said Stewart, 40. "It might be a good thing. It hurts my wallet, but it's a good reminder to drive our smaller car."

A weak dollar is pushing gas prices higher, and Georgia drivers are feeling the increase more than most. The average price of regular unleaded in Georgia is 31 cents higher than a year ago and 14 cents higher than a month ago.

Experts predict gas prices will continue rising. Last week's news that U.S. employers added far fewer jobs than forecast for November weakened the dollar and increased the appeal of crude oil as a commodity to foreign investors, according to AAA Auto Club. Crude prices edged up Monday to $89.38 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a more than two-year high.

AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady said the value of the dollar is likely to remain low, while oil prices should rise above $90 a barrel.

"This is not good news going into the December holiday season, and while we don't expect the higher gas prices to deter many holiday travelers, it will definitely make consumer wallets a little tighter," she said.

Gas prices have already shown steep increases going into this week and are expected to continue upwards as a result of the $5-plus increase in the price of oil, she said.

John Fletcher, a USPS driver from Snellville, says it costs about $60 to fill up his mail truck. Even though gas prices don't deter his daily rounds, a gallon costing anywhere near $3 makes his reconsider how much he travels in his personal life.

"I won't go out as much as I used to," he said.