On average, Americans expect to pay $4.36 per gallon to fill up their tank in the next year, according to survey results released by Gallup earlier this week.

The poll, conducted between March 3 through 6, also showed that more than a quarter of Americans expect to pay $5 per gallon in the next year. By region, Americans expect to pay the most for their gas in the Western U.S. ($4.49/gallon), while they expect the lowest price increase in the South ($4.27/gallon).

Expected peak price range (US$)% of Americans
Less than $3.758
$3.75 to $4.0037
$4.01 to $4.9922
$5.00 or more27
Mean peak price$4.36

Currently, Americans pay $3.45 a gallon for gasoline at the pump on average, which is close to the Department of Energy’s own reported average price of $3.52 a gallon for the week ended March 7.  Americans expect the price of gas to increase by 91 cents this year on average, while 50% of them believe that the price of gas will increase by 75 cents or more.

Expected peak price range (US$)% of AmericansExpected IncreaseMarch 3-6, 2011June 14-17, 2009March 14-16, 2008April 28-30, 2006
Less than $3.758Current Price is high for the year1%3%2%4%
$3.75 to $4.0037Increase of 1-25 cents3%11%9%18%
$4.01 to $4.992225-50 cents12%24%17%20%
$5.00 or more2750-75 cents26%21%30%19%
Mean peak price$4.3675 cents or more50%35%35%34%
AVERAGE INCREASE91 cents70 cents67 cents65 cents

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Gas prices actually increased by 14 cents over the past week and by 75 cents over the past year, while persistent conflict in the Middle East seems to be the main reason why most Americans feel their gas prices will continue rise in the coming year, according to Gallup. Though Wall Street analysts don’t believe the price of gas will negatively affect consumers until it surpasses $4 per gallon, consumer expectations of future fluctuations in the commodity’s price could be more important than what is actually occurring. This is because consumers will likely change their spending behavior in anticipation of higher gas prices.

Gallup’s poll surveyed 1,021 adults between the ages of 18 and up and living in the continental United States.

How much do you expect gas prices to rise in the coming year? Has it affected your everyday spending habits? Let us know in the comments section.

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