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Gas Prices Take Toll On Central Ohio Drivers

Gasoline prices in Central Ohio have risen sharply in the first few months of the year, getting close to $4 a gallon. Government analysts predict near record high prices the remainder of the year. The higher gasoline prices cause some commuters to look for relief, others are resigned to the high cost of getting to and from work. At the start of another workweek, Rocky Reed fills his gas tank at a Granville station, 35 miles east of Columbus. Inside, he bought coffee and smokes for his daily commute but paid little attention to the pump price for his gas.

No because it wouldn't matter for me anyway, I drive a hundred miles a day. So, you figure 500 miles before I do anything for myself.

Reed says gas prices have been high for so long he rarely takes notice anymore. He paid nearly 60 dollars to fill his gas tank. He'll need to fill it again in three days. At the next pump, Cindy Steen also prepares for a long commute and doesn't give much thought to the cost of gasoline. "I really can't afford to, because I commute an hour and a half a day." Reporter: "So what do you spend a week on gasoline?" Steen: I don't even think about it. Probably about $75." At $75 per week, Steen would spend nearly $4,000 this year for gasoline. The federal energy department says last year the average household spent nearly three thousand dollars for gas. Gas prices peaked in Ohio in July of 2008 just a few cents north of 4 dollars per gallon. Now, after more than four years of high gas prices, Triple A's Kimberley Schwind says the motor club fields few driver complaints.

People just kind of muddle through it and do what they can to help conserve gas and you know save a little bit of money.

But, Ohio State University economist Matt Lewis says drivers are doing more than muddling through. "They are reducing their usage a little bit and they're buying more fuel efficient cars which softens the effect high prices have on their budget." Case in point: Matthew Green of Newark who traded in a six cylinder Jeep model for a used four cylinder ride. "So I got me a little gas saver. It's definitely not the nicest on the eyes but it helps a little bit. I had to spend money to save money. I definitely get better gas mileage but still the gas prices are ridiculous." Analyst Patrick DeHann at Gasbuddy.com says Green and other Central Ohio drivers could see some slight, temporary relief from high gas prices.

What we've seen is this tremendous rise up in prices to start the year. It's much earlier than what we've been used to seeing. So there could be another second rally in prices that holds off until April or May.

And if pump prices increase again in the Spring, commuters like Rocky Reed will have little option but to dig a little deeper in their pockets to pay for gas. "I can't walk there, I mean what are you going to do. You have to do what you have to do."