LAFAYETTE, La. (KPEL News) - Gas prices in Lafayette have been creeping upward in recent weeks, and are almost as high as they were a year ago.

The current average cost of gas in the heart of Acadiana is $2.95 per gallon. That's up almost 10 cents from a month ago, and as of this week, national averages hit a three-month high, causing some concern among drivers.

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East Carroll Parish, Louisiana, has the highest average in the state, sitting at around $3.40 per gallon. The cheapest gas in the state can be found in Madison Parish (ironically just below East Carroll Parish), which is averaging $2.81 per gallon.

AAA's breakdown of the cost of gas in Louisiana can be seen in this map.

Credit: AAA
Credit: AAA
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The good news for Louisiana is that we're not anywhere close to the highest gas in the nation. That honor goes to Hawaii - $4.70 per gallon on average.

According to Forbes, "Five other states average north of $3.50, including California ($4.62), Washington ($3.90), Nevada ($3.90), Oregon ($3.59) and Pennsylvania ($3.50), due to a combination of factors, including above-average gas taxes along the West Coast and Pennsylvania, as well as transportation costs and several refinery related issues, including a fire at a Montana facility and an outage at a British Petroleum refinery in Indiana."

The business magazine reports that the recent rise in gas prices is due to a dramatic increase in demand. The U.S. went from 8.14 million barrels per day last month to 8.81 million barrels per day last week.

The conflict in the Middle East has played a part in oil prices, as well. As cargo ships tried to navigate the Red Sea, terror groups began firing on them, forcing ships to have to take alternate and longer routes. That had an impact on global trade, including energy.

Patrick De Haan at GasBuddy is predicting price spikes in March and April.

“We’ve seen the national average price of gasoline inching higher now for three straight weeks, but I’m afraid the worst is yet to come," De Haan said. "With several major refinery issues persisting across various regions, the eventual transition to summer gasoline is likely to continue to put upward pressure on prices, with larger weekly increases likely coming in March and April."

“While I feel optimistic that the rise in prices will be merely average," he added, "the fact that we’ve already seen a few high-level refinery problems doesn’t bode well for the spring squeeze, and is a reminder to motorists that without the critical role that refineries play, we could see a bumpy transition to EPA-mandated summer gasoline.”

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Fuel-Saving Tips from AAA

AAA, which is the largest motoring and leisure travel membership organization in the U.S., maintains a website with a ton of helpful information on gas prices, trends, and more. Included with that are these tips for being fuel-efficient while on the road.

1. Slow down and drive the speed limit. On the highway, aerodynamic drag causes fuel economy to drop off significantly as speeds increase above 50 mph.

2. Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and hard acceleration. These actions greatly increase fuel consumption.

3. Avoid extended idling to warm up the engine, even in winter. It’s unnecessary and wastes fuel.

4. Avoid prolonged idling in general. If your car will be stopped for more than 60 seconds, shut off the engine to save fuel. Many newer cars have automatic engine stop-start systems that do this.

5. When driving in town, adjust your speed to “time” the traffic lights. This reduces repeated braking and acceleration that consume additional fuel.

6. When approaching a red light or stop sign, take your foot off the gas early and allow your car to coast down to a slower speed until it is time to brake.

7. Accelerate smoothly with light to moderate throttle. This allows the automatic transmission to upshift into higher gears sooner, reducing engine rpm and saving fuel.

8. Use cruise control to help maintain a constant speed and save fuel. However, never use cruise control on slippery roads because a loss of vehicle control could result.

9.  If your car has a manual transmission, upshift as soon as you can without “lugging” the engine. When practical, you can also save fuel by skip-shifting – for example, going directly from first gear to third.

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