Raleigh, N.C. — When Triangle gas prices fell to an average $3.27 a gallon last month, it seemed too good to be true.
Prices have been rising since then, reaching an average of $3.62 a gallon statewide, according to AAA.
The national average for a gallon of regular was $3.70, compared with $3.40 a month ago, the auto club reported.
For motorists, a penny here and there adds up.
“I thought summer was always the highest prices, but they would go down closer to fall,” Pam O’Leary said. “And instead, they’re going up.”
Driver Phil Rzewnicki said: “You don’t see the reasoning behind it – why it fluctuates so much.
The rising prices are especially tough for delivery drivers who use their own cars.
“If I have two deliveries back to back that are on opposite sides of Raleigh, then it’s kind of a pain,” said Jon Rogers, who delivers for Marco's Pizza near North Carolina State University.
Management recognizes that gas prices can impact their employees.
“We got to treat our drivers right, too,” said Brandon Immen, assistant general manager at Marco’s Pizza. “And we certainly don’t want them losing money on taking deliveries.”
Marco’s charges $2 per delivery – money that goes back to the drivers. Increasing gas prices forced them to raise that charge from $1.50 about a year ago.
Next door at the Pita Pit, owner Kimit Shah said he also has a $2 charge for deliveries.
“Pretty much when we don’t get tipped, we don’t get our gas money,” he said. “So that’s the way it really impacts us.”
“We don’t actually make those prices go any higher than that,” Shah added. “We keep it simple.”
Drivers just wish gas prices could be that simple.
“That would be great,” Rogers said. “But I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”
Experts say there are several factors leading to the higher gas prices, including tension in the Middle East, more drivers on the road and even higher corn prices, which impacts the cost of ethanol.