Gas prices continue to climb

File Photo. Regular unleaded fuel is priced at $3.69 per gallon off Beaver Ruin Road near Interstate 85.

File Photo. Regular unleaded fuel is priced at $3.69 per gallon off Beaver Ruin Road near Interstate 85.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Eric Haugabrook commutes from Atlanta to his job in Gwinnett, filling his car with $15 in fuel daily before returning home.

"Two months ago, I could get by on $10. That would get me out here and back home," he said. "Now I have to pay $15 or I have to put gas in on my side of town, too. And it's a lot cheaper out here."

Gas prices have been on an upward climb for weeks, and the average price per gallon in Georgia is now 80 cents higher than it was a year ago. Analysts attribute the rising cost to unrest in the Middle East, combined with improvements in the national economy -- and they expect prices to continue to climb.

At several Lawrenceville gas stations, the price was $3.53 per gallon on Tuesday.

"It's high, but it's just something you have to have," Haugabrook said. "It's not unbearable, but I can see it getting to the point where it is kind of stressful."

Others are already feeling the pinch at the pump.

"It's too much," said Kendra Manzie, a Gwinnett resident.

Manzie said she works with hospice and drives as far away as Union City or Riverdale for work. The long commutes are causing her to fill up at least two times a week.

Barrow County resident Markita Hernandez said the prices are "awful."

"I come all the way from Barrow County to Gwinnett County (for work)," she said. "You move out there because (the housing market) is cheaper, but you spend even more on gas."

Crude oil settled Friday at $107.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange -- $2.54 more than the week before. It was the highest settlement since September 2008.

"Oil prices continue to move higher as we get closer to the summer driving season," said Jessica Bradley, spokeswoman for AAA Auto Club South. "The unrest in the Middle East will sustain the already high oil prices, but coupled with positive economic news in the U.S., prices are likely to move even higher."

The national average price of unleaded regular gasoline is $3.64 per gallon -- 7 cents more than the week before, according to AAA. Georgia's average price of $3.52 increased 5 cents from the week before.