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Gas Prices Hit Record High Averages in 2011

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - An estimated 84 Million Americans will be fueling up to drive over the next few weeks. Despite a recent decline in gas prices, this years average cost of fuel sets a new record. For 2011, the national average price for fuel is about $3.50 a gallon. That accounts for about 8.4% of the average American family's income, the highest percentage in 30 years.

The average American household will have spent, a record, $4,155 filling up this year. Though it's not what some Eastern Iowans wanted to hear, for many it wasn't a surprise. "It's better now, it was pretty bad earlier in the year, but it's better now. Which I appreciate because you spend a lot more on gas in the winter time," said Charles Conner, of Cedar Rapids.

Fuel hasn't been cheap here in Iowa, or across the country this year. On average, fuel was about 76 cents per gallon more than in 2010. It was 29 cents per gallon more than in 2008. "Having a truck it sucks when you are paying 60 to 70 bucks a tank," said Matthew Woods, of Cedar Rapids. Lacey Higdon, of Rowley drives about 45 minutes to and from work each day. "It's a long commute. I work two jobs here in Cedar Rapids so I am here seven days a week, so it's good to see them going down," said Higdon.

With the cost of gas eating up almost 10% of the average family's income, KCRG wanted to know how much of Eastern Iowans income was paying for fuel. "Maybe 10 to 20 percent, I mean a nice chunk," said Conner. "About a quarter to an eighth," said Woods. "Probably a good 20 to 30 percent as much as I drive, easily," said Higdon.

Despite a recent, small decline, in gas prices here locally, national experts don't expect much change in the year to come. But 'tis the season for high hopes and wishful thinking. "Christmas miracle? I hope so, it's been going down lately so my fingers are crossed," said Higdon.

Even though gas prices are still more than three dollars a gallon in most places, AAA estimates about a 2% increase of people on the road this holiday season, as for many it's still cheaper to drive, than fly.

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