Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Drivers plot ways to make ends meet as price tops $4

Motorists discovered Monday that $4-a-gallon gas is no longer just a possibility in Metro Detroit but a reality, causing some to change driving habits as they complained about higher prices.

A few locations crossed the $4 mark for a gallon of unleaded gasoline — reaching $4.15 in Waterford Township.

Speedway stations in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Kalamazoo and Flint began raising prices to $3.99 a gallon Monday, and other stations likely will follow suit, said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, which lets consumers report and view gas prices.

Angie Szerlong is used to spending $50 to $60 to fill up her 2009 Chrysler Town & Country minivan, but Monday's fill-up cost her $78.19.

"I was shocked," the 35-year-old Troy resident said after paying $4.07 a gallon at a BP station in Troy. "That was the highest I ever paid for gas."

Szerlong said she tries to consolidate errands, but still does a lot of driving because she has three children with many activities such as gymnastics classes.

The continuing rise in prices caused gas sales to decrease across the country during the week ending April 1, the second straight week of decline, while consumption dropped for a fifth consecutive week, according to an April 5 report from MasterCard SpendingPulse, which tracks gasoline spending at more than 140,000 stations nationwide.

The report, released weekly, found drivers bought 2.7 billion gallons for the week ending April 1, down 3.6 percent from the same period in 2010, when gasoline was about 80 cents cheaper.

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