Gas prices continue to rise

HOUSTON We are paying almost a dollar per gallon of gas more than we were last year at this time. The current national average for a gallon of gas is $3.79. Last week it was $3.68, and last year around this time it was just $2.71, according to AAA.

Experts say the reason for the rise in price is two-fold. First, you have to consider the seasonal spike. Every year right before summer and certain holidays the price jumps. Second, there is continued unrest in the Middle East. Uncertainty about what will happen from here is really the driving force behind the prices we're seeing.

Experts say if violence continues in Libya and spreads to neighboring countries, for instance, we could see prices rise even higher. But if things settle, we may see a little dip in the price of oil and then in the prices you pay at the pump.

Bottom line, it has a direct impact on travel plans for many families, whether driving or flying. Airlines have increased prices, blaming, in part, fuel costs. Driving doesn't seem like a much cheaper alternative, as perhaps it once was.

"We're not seeing demand growing any higher, and that's probably due to the high prices," said oil and gas expert Barbara Shook. "If people aren't going to be taking driving vacations, and if airline tickets have reached a point that people can't afford to fly, then we will see prices hit a ceiling."

Gas prices haven't been this high since 2008. What that means, experts say, is that people are doing only necessary driving and cutting back on recreational travel.

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