Reporter: Danner Evans l Videographer: Brian Whitesell
Forest, VA - There's one thing that most of us really need that costs a lot right now: gas.
ABC 13 News and Kroger are partnering to follow the latest trends on gas prices this month, find out why they are rising or falling, get a prediction for the week to come and best of all, give you cash for your gas right there at the pump.
You pull, you pump and you pay a lot at the gas station. Those prices, soaring in the spring, have a lot of people watching and waiting. Making changes in everyday life just to fill the tank.
"I mean we all have a budget," said driver Frances Garland. Rich folks have budgets. Middle class and poor class."
"If I can run multiple errands and multi-task I'll do that rather than making a single trip out," said Diana Clifford
"I just bought a bicycle," said Daniel Wisby. "Mainly for exercise but if prices go up at the pump I'll be prepared,"
The news at the pump right now is getting easier to take. Gasbuddy.com reports a 5 cent drop - averaging around $3.80 for regular unleaded in Virginia.
That's a far cry from the surge Gasbuddy predicted for April at the beginning of the year. Dr. Joe Turek, economist at Lynchburg College, is watching those prices for us and explained what is going on.
"One of the things we've seen if you look at the data, the markets are incredibly volatile," Turek said. "Prices are all over the place and that's because there's a tremendous amount of uncertainty.
Turek said that uncertainty dictates supply and demand.
On the supply side he said we are seeing lower prices because refineries that were closed or slated to close are now open for business.
"The good news is that it's just happened," Turek explained. "Which means some of the refineries that were undergoing maintenance are now back online. That would suggest we'll see an increase in refining capacity."
At least for now that means we have lower prices at the pump.
Now let's look at demand. Turek said the struggling economies overseas play a big hand in the current prices in America.
"Europe is a mess. Today's 'Wall Street Journal' indicated the UK is now back in recession, Turek said. "When you look at the situation in Spain and Italy, all of the economic activity that could be taking place in Europe and generating demand in gas is not there."
So their misfortune is our gain at the gas station.
"Bottom line is this: gas prices are determined in the market. That's a point a lot of people don't actually understand," Turek said. "There are people who want to blame the president for example. There are people who think there is a conspiracy. The oil companies are conspiring to raise oil prices. That is not consistent of our understanding of how markets work.
Supply, demand, speculation and the global economy - it's hard to wrap your arms around it all when you're just trying to fill your tank.
No one knows that better than drivers like Daniel Wisby and Dave Young. So this week, ABC 13 News Pump Patrol is lending a hand.
"To help out your budget, we were wondering if $50 on your next fill up from ABC 13 and Kroger might help you out?" asked reporter Danner Evans.
"That would be awesome! Most definitely," Wisby said.
"I think it would help!" Young said. " It'd help my wife a whole lot who is sitting in the truck with me."
"When I came to work this morning my gas light dinged," Wisby said. " As I pulled around in here it actually died. I was living on the edge. So this will definitely help."
Even if we didn't help you out this time around, Pump Patrol is predicting something you might like when it comes to gas prices for the week ahead.
"I think smart money would point to constant or continuing decline in prices," Turek said.
Watch for us at your local Kroger gas station. We'll be giving away free fill ups all month long!
You can also watch gas prices by clicking on the gasbuddy.com site.
For tips on how to save money on gas click here.
For fuel saving tips that just don't work click here.