WILMINGTON -- By late winter drivers typically get a break from rising gas prices before the summer's busy driving season. But if trends continue, costs could reach beyond $4 a gallon by Memorial Day. Rising gas prices are hitting drivers where it hurts -- their wallets. Local business owner Mike Maltba said, "I think the gas prices are ridiculous and I think it's outrageous that we have to pay this kind of price for gas." Local resident Joseph Mitchell said, "I think the gas prices are extremely high, and it's just in March, so by the summer gets here, I'm thinking it will be around $4 or $5 probably a gallon." Recent predictions say gas prices could be on their way to reaching the $4 mark by summertime, making it hard for people like Robert Brown, an artist from Charlotte, whose livelihood depends on gasoline. He drives all over the state to sell his paintings, but the rising cost of gas may hurt his business. Brown said, "Gas does affect everything, I can't get higher prices for my products, I may try to work closer to home" Rising fuel prices not only affect drivers, but gas station owners as well. The owner of this Brunswick County independent gas station turned off his pumps because he says he can't recoup the costs he incurs when buying the gas. Some say while we can't control gas prices, we can control how we use it. Concerned resident Gail Berry said, "I really don't want to pay higher prices myself but I think we need to learn how to conserve gas and until the price goes up I don't think that will happen." This time last year the national average for a gallon of regular was $2.45, according to AAA. Now it's up to more than $3.16. And here in the Wilmington area gas averages a now record $3.18 a gallon.
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