WARREN - Barring any major disruptions like last year's superstorm Sandy and high Mideast tensions, experts are predicting gas prices this year should be more subdued than 2012 prices.
That is despite the fact that this year opened up with gas prices at a record high to start a year and nearly double the prices from 2009.
"We estimate that 2013 will not be as high (as last year),'' AAA national spokesman Michael Green said.
Green said the nationwide auto club is predicting nationwide average prices for 2013 should peak between $3.60 and $3.80 per gallon of unleaded gasoline. That is in comparison to the 2012 national peak of $3.94.
The highest national average ever for the United States was $4.11 in 2008, according to AAA statistics.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration, likewise, is predicting a slight drop in the average retail price of unleaded gasoline. That agency predicts prices in 2013 will average $3.44 per gallon, less than the record of $3.63 the agency recorded in its stats for 2012.
By comparison, on-road diesel fuel averaged a record $3.97 per gallon in 2012, and is expected to decrease to $3.87 per gallon in 2013, the U.S. Energy Information Administration noted.
The agency indicated 2013 started with gas prices averaging about $3.30 per gallon, the highest ever to start a year, and almost twice the $1.68 per gallon price that started 2009.
Green said Americans last year spent an average of $343 per month per household on gasoline, which equates to 8.2 percent of the average household income.
That figure was a dollar lower than the $344 per month each household spent on gasoline in 2011. That figure, however, comprised 8.3 percent of the average household income of 2011.
Helping to drive down the demand for gas and its price per gallon is more fuel-efficient cars, Green said.
''We have electric cars, hybrid cars, plus people are driving less,'' Green said last week. ''Alternative fuels are helping to bring down gas prices, but there are so few of them.''