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Drivers Paying A Premium As Gas Prices Continue To Skyrocket

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — An unfortunate trend continued Saturday, as gasoline prices around the Southland continued to jump based on a series of factors, including the ongoing War in Ukraine.

Now, drivers everywhere are being forced to adapt to the changes that are emptying wallets and creating pain at the pump.

In Los Angeles County, drivers are paying an average of $5.25 per gallon, another increase over the record set on Friday. In fact, it was the 27th record set for average gas prices in the last 29 days in the area. One gas station in Beverly Center even showed an astounding $6.95 per gallon of unleaded regular gas, and $7.55 for premium gas.

Over Friday and Saturday alone, prices per gallon have skyrocketed nearly 24 cents per gallon, and 37 cents from a week ago Saturday.

The county isn't alone though, as Orange County ($5.24), Inland Empire ($5.15) and Ventura County motorists are all suddenly forced to pay over $5,00 per gallon.

For many Southern Californians, these suddenly soaring prices are literally life-changing. They've been forced to adapt their way of life, spending small amounts per trip to the grocery store, or leaving the car at home before running errands.

Others have been forced to completely readjust their monthly budgets to adjust to the change.

"Whenever I'm out with friends, I never like to drive," joked Elliott Morales. "I say, 'Let's take your car, your's is a four-cylinder."

Morales spoke with CBS reporters Saturday, where he spent $100 even for just 18 gallons of gas, not enough to fill up the entire tank of his vehicle. He expects it will only last about half a week.

"It makes me want to get rid of it - ride a bike," he continued.

Despite the light-heartedness Morales had in the face of this new gasoline crisis, the prices around the region have been no joke, as detailed by Doug Shupe of the Auto Club of Southern California.

"It's up 51 cents from a month ago. and up $1.46 per gallon from this time a year ago," he said.

He continued to note that there really is no clear end in sight for the consistent increase in prices, and even though these changes are the result of many factors, it mainly relies on the price of crude oil and the Russian invasion into Ukraine. Crude oil costs account for slightly more than half of the pump price, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

"It's scary for sure," said Sharon Rose Garcia, who was filling up just two gallons of her tank Saturday so she could get to Costco, where she would use her membership for the lowest prices in her neighborhood.

"I'm trying not to drive as much as possible," she continued.

Not everyone has the luxury of cutting back on driving though, as tens of thousands of commuters flood Southern Californian roads on a daily basis, heading to work to make money for things like gasoline.

"I budget on gas," said Alfonso Gutierrez. "But most likely, the budget is going to have to be readjusted."

Sydney Schell, a student in the area also noted that the out-of-control prices were almost too much for her daily commute to class.

"I think we're really at the max here, I need to be able to commute for school," she said.

For the average-sized sedan, the amount drivers are spending to fill up their tank is up nearly $20 from a year ago. The national average for a gallon of gasoline is almost two dollars lower than the norm in Southern California at $3.84.

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