Gas prices may reach $4 a gallon

Rising gasoline prices are expected to hit $4 a gallon by mid-January.

The cost of fuel is already at a two-year high.

In San Luis Obispo County, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas is $3.34 — 47 cents more than this time last year.

“They keep going up and up and up,” said Alex Fonseca, a Fresno resident here on business. “I drive a truck and get eight miles to the gallon. There’s nothing we can do. We have to get gas.”

It costs Fonseca $140 to put 40 gallons of diesel fuel in his Chevy truck.

“Gas will go over $4 a gallon. It’s going to happen sooner or later,” Fonseca said.

Some area residents have changed their habits in order to save on gas money.

“I bought a scooter,” said Dane Hodgson, who was filling up at a local gas station midweek. The Santa Barbara resident said he doesn’t drive much and estimates he’s saved about $1,000 on gas since buying the scooter just a few months ago.

“It has a 1-gallon tank, and I get 100 miles to the gallon.”

Nationwide, the average price of gasoline rose above $3 a gallon over the past week, reaching its highest level since October 2008 when gas prices peaked above $4 a gallon in many places.

The national price for regular gasoline increased 7 cents from the previous week to an average of $3.04 per gallon, according to auto club AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service.

A gallon of regular unleaded is 18.3 cents higher than it was a month ago and 44.2 cents more than it was last year.

Analysts say the rising price at the pump is being driven by the increasing price of crude, the cost of which accounts for two-thirds to three-quarters of the price of gas.

Crude prices are at $91 a barrel and are inching up.

The outlook doesn’t look good for drivers who have watched holiday-season gas prices climb steadily. Experts predict drivers will feel the sting of $4-per-gallon gas in the coming weeks. Typically gas prices go down with the summer sun, giving drivers a break on at-the-pump costs. Analysts say that may not be the case this time around.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.