What Was the Highest Gas Price in US History?

Horizontal shot of someone's hands holding money at the gas pump.
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American drivers had it rough back in 1981. The average price of gasoline spiked to $1.353 a gallon that year — up from $1.221 in 1980 and more than double the price just three years earlier. Adjusted for inflation, the average price of gas in 1981 would have equaled $2.421 a gallon in 2020.

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To which drivers in 2022 can only say: Give us that deal! If only life were like that.

As it stands, the average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States right now is $4.865, according to AAA. That’s a new all-time high not only on a national level but in all 50 states. The new high eclipses the previous record of $4.103 set in 2008.

Prices are continuing to move much higher because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, especially as the EU, whose consumption of Russian oil is around 40% of overall use, announced a speed up in the transition to alternative sources and fuels. As GOBankingRates previously reported, U.S. gas prices have gone up more than 45 cents per gallon since the conflict began.

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Older drivers will remember a time when $5-a-gallon gas sounded like the stuff of science fiction. The average national price for a full year didn’t even push about $2 a gallon until 2005, according to the U.S. Inflation Calculator website. Prior to 2021, the yearly average exceeded $3 a gallon only five times: in 2008 and from 2011 to 2014.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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