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Gas Prices Squeeze Consumers

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Gov. Martin O'Malley says the state's gas tax doesn't raise as much as it use to.
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Gov. Martin O'Malley says the state's gas tax doesn't raise as much as it use to.

Gas sales have declined for the past five weeks, suggesting some motorists have reached their tipping point and are slowly changing their habits. David Peterson lives in the District.

"I walk. I'm walking to the Capitol. It's a beautiful day, so why take the car?" he says.

Of course, days aren't always beautiful and destinations not always in walking distance.

At this gas station in the District where the price of premium unleaded is pushing $4.70 a gallon, the pumps are silent. It was nearly an hour before Tom drove in with his boss' van. He won't give his last name because he knows he's spending too much, but says he had no choice.

"I don't want to run out of gas. I've got a messed up gas gauge and don't know when the last time I filled up," he says. "If my boss hears this ... sorry boss man."

American commuters have bought less gasoline than they did last year at this time for the past five weeks. That's according to metrics watcher SpendingPulse which tracks the volume of gas sold at 140,000 service stations nationwide.

New figures show sales at more than half of the region's major gas stations have dropped 3 percent or more, which is the sharpest drop since 2008.

AAA Mid-Atlantic's John Townsend says the numbers are disturbing.

"The average consumer is paying 65.40 cent more for gas than he was last year per month," Townsend says.

If you have to use the car, but want to save gas, officials from AAA Mid-Atlantic suggest re-visiting the strategy of carpooling to work and in the off hours, trying to consolidate errands instead of wasting gas on multiple trips.

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