JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - With the ever-changing and often rising gas prices, people are buying more fuel efficient cars and driving less.
But those changes haven't spared all drivers from much pain at the pump.
A new report says the average family spent the most money in 30 years on gasoline last year.
For many people who drive SUV's, they probably fill up once a week and it's most likely around $60 each time. That's more than $3,000 a year and that's what the average household is spending.
"We got nice cars today. But people spending all this money on fuel, people have to think several times before taking a vacation," driver Randy Jaerger said. "Back when I was a kid, we'd take a vacation and not think twice about it. But America's really changed in the wrong direction."
The sharp rise in gas prices has been hitting Americans hard for several years, forcing many to re-think driving habits and budgets.
"In the last couple of years, average income has only grown like 3.4 percent, but gas prices have gone up 26 percent," AAA manager of Northeast Florida Bill Bishop said. "It's really putting a crunch on the family budget."
An increase of a few cents here and there may not seem big in the grand scheme of things, but added up, it may shock drivers.
In 2012, US households spent an average of over $2,900 on gasoline. That's the highest it's been in 30 years.
Analysts say we usually see a pretty dramatic price increase in the spring nationwide because people are driving more, but the more expensive prices are hitting us early.
"Right now the refineries are shutting down somewhat. They're doing their annual maintenance and they're getting ready to switch over from the winter gas to the summer gas," Bishop said. "It's a different formula. Different mixture of ethanol, so they can't produce as much.
The next drivers fill up in Florida or Georgia, they should just remember it could always be worse. The average price of a gallon of unleaded in New York and California are at or above the $4 mark.
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