Motor group AAA reports that U.S. commuters paid, on average, $3.60 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline, up 30 cents compared to last month and 10 cents higher than the same time last year.
Daily price records were reported for California markets, where prices increased 14 cents in one week to more than $4 per gallon.
Tom Kloza, an oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, told the Los Angeles Times "there has never been this much money bet on higher gasoline prices this early in the year."
Higher crude oil prices and refinery shutdowns may explain some of the increase in prices. The U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration states that crude oil prices are responsible for about 68 percent of the cost of retail gasoline.
Bloomberg News reports Brent crude oil futures are up nearly 7 percent for the year on signs of economic recovery in the United States. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in its February report stated that its forecast for world oil demand growth for the year has also been revised higher.
Southern Colorado Public Radio reports that a gasoline price spike in the state is outpacing the national average. Despite the increase, commuters there paid, on average, $3.35 for a gallon of regular unleaded, about 25 cents less per gallon than the national average.