COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Industry experts say soaring gas prices will get even higher in the coming weeks.

According to AAA, the national gas price average has increased 40 percent since the start of the year, from $2.25 on January 1 to $3.14 as of Thursday morning. It’s largely due to loosening pandemic restrictions and more Americans traveling.

“There’s a huge pent-up demand for travel, which is great. [We’ve] got to get this economy going again,” said AAA spokesperson Bill Purpura.

Purpura explained as demand continues to rise, global affairs and weather are also affecting prices. By the end of August, we can expect another 10-20 cent spike.

“They’ve definitely been skyrocketing, just going up, up, up,” Zack Alexander observed about gas prices as he filled his tank at a Columbus gas station Thursday.

Kyle Parnell added, “If it was 4 dollars a gallon, it might slow me down. I’d probably stay home.”

Over the weekend, negotiations fell through between the oil-producing nations of OPEC. Some predict the fallout could push crude oil prices to a 7-year high.

“What they do is going to be important. It’s going to impact crude oil prices and eventually, that comes down to the consumer at the pump,” Purpura said.

Within the U.S.’s domestic supply, hurricanes and tropical storms also pose a seasonal threat to the production along the Gulf of Mexico.

Purpura explained, “That’s where a lot of those refineries exist. And when hurricanes come in through those coastal communities, those gas lines shut down for safety reasons.”

In order to mitigate the toll on your pocket this summer, AAA offers the following advice:

  • Combine errands to limit your driving time
  • Shop around for the best gas prices in your community
  • Lighten the load on your vehicle
  • Watch your driving habits; accelerating quickly burns more gas

Americans are expected to pay a national average of $3.25 at the pump by the end of August. Traditionally, prices taper off toward the end of summer and the beginning of fall when children return to school and families travel less.