By Karl Henkel
Don’t look now.
No, really, don’t look, unless $4-a-gallon gasoline isn’t bothersome.
The average price for regular unleaded gas in Northeast Ohio jumped to $3.90 a gallon by midday Tuesday, according to statistics from AAA East Central, and drivers can expect gas prices at some Mahoning Valley stations to leap past $4 a gallon beginning today.
With many stations late Tuesday posting prices at $3.99.9, that really isn’t too far of a jump.
“We’re seeing these prices go up as oil prices trend toward $115 a barrel,” said Bevi Powell, director of communications for AAA East Central. “And for the short term, we’re going to see them trend upward.”
Uprisings in the Middle East and Africa and the infusion of a special “summer blend” of gasoline required by the Environmental Protection Agency often are blamed for the increase.
Regardless, gas in the Valley has inched toward $4 a gallon, primarily in Youngstown, and is expected to cross that price threshold today.
“We see people trying to combine errands and travel with someone else,” Powell said about the effect of $4 fuel.
“More people are also trying to stretch a tank of gas or get to a station with lower prices.”
In fact, Powell said AAA has seen an 18-percent increase in calls of drivers running out of fuel in year-over-year statistics.
Gas hasn’t hit $4 a gallon since 2008. In July 2008, gas in Youngstown reached its highest level ever, $4.05 a gallon. Last year at this time, gas was $2.76 in the Valley, according to AAA. Just one month ago, gas was $3.51.
The BP station at the corner of Gypsy Lane and Belmont Avenue in Trumbull County was at $3.99.9 for unleaded-regular late Tuesday afternoon, as was a Sunoco Station about a mile south on Belmont.
Mark Fabian, general sales manager at Greenwood Chevrolet, 4665 Mahoning Ave. in Austintown, said the dealership is prepared for a rush on fuel-efficient vehicles such as the Lordstown-built Chevy Cruze and the Malibu, but that not every customer is worried about fuel prices.
“People buy what they need,” he said. “If people need a truck, they’ll buy a truck. It doesn’t matter what gas prices are.”