Chicago-area gas prices highest ever

May 3, 2011 3:15:44 PM PDT
The average price of gas throughout Illinois and Indiana has reached its highest price ever, with a gallon of unleaded gasoline in Illinois costing $4.28, $4.19 in Indiana, and $4.41 in Chicagoland, according to AAA's most recent fuel gauge report.

Previous records were set in July 2008.

Nationwide, the average retail price for a gallon of gasoline is $3.98.

Some Illinoisans hop the Indiana border for less expensive gas, but the price is still high.

"I don't take any long trips anymore because I can't afford it," said Lois Johnson.

"It's putting a crunch on things. With the gas and everything, when is it ever going to end?" asked Ron Strzelinski.

Other drivers are trying to avoid paying more all together.

"I decided to start riding my bicycle back and forth to work," said Mike Mireles.

Williams Florists and Balloons has been in Highland, Indiana for 26 years. Owner Helen Williams has seen smaller orders since the recession. She cut back on staff and does all that she can to make her deliveries fuel efficient, even making sure the air pressure is right on the tires.

"It's $85-90 to fill up my van," said Williams.

Adding to the business' financial burden, three years ago someone ran into Williams' business. Rebuilding has been expensive, even with insurance, and now increasing gas costs may be the straw the breaks the business woman's back.

"I am not ready to close. It's just too hard," said Williams with tears in her eyes.

Williams will meet with her accountant in the coming days to decide what she does next. Until then she orchestrates efficient Mother's Day and prom deliveries.


Tips for conserving gas:

1. Ease up on the gas pedal

The U.S. Department of Energy reports aggressive driving can reduce a car's fuel economy up to 33 percent. The fuel efficiency of most vehicles decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph.

  • Instead of making quick starts and sudden stops, go easy on the gas and brake pedals. If there is a red light ahead, ease off the gas and coast up to it rather than waiting until the last second to brake. Once the light turns green, accelerate gently rather than making a 'jack rabbit' start.
  • The fuel efficiency of most vehicles decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Simply driving the speed limit or a few miles per hour less can reduce fuel consumption up to 23 percent
  • Each 5 mph driven over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

2. Keep Your Car In Shape

A car that's not properly maintained can produce more exhaust emissions and consume more fuel than necessary.

  • Making sure all recommended maintenance is up to date will help your car run with optimum efficiency.
  • Minor adjustments and repairs can effect emissions and fuel economy by up to four percent, while more serious problems, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can reduce gas mileage as much as 40 percent.

3. Choose a 'Greener' Car

When shopping for a new car, consider the wide variety of 'green' vehicle options now available from automakers.

  • AAA recently released its 2011 list of top picks for 'green' vehicles available to consumers, which is available at
  • Even those not in the market for a newer vehicle may have the option of choosing a 'greener' car. If a household has multiple vehicles, choose to drive the 'greener' model more frequently when running errands or making other trips.

4. Think and Plan Ahead

Think ahead before heading out to the store or another errand. Determine all the places you need to go that day and try to combine multiple trips into one.

  • Several short trips starting with a cold engine each time can use twice as much gas as a single longer trip when the engine is warm. Also, plan the route in advance to drive the fewest miles, eliminate backtracking and avoid heavy traffic times and areas.
  • AAA's free TripTik Mobile iPhone app, motorists get turn-by-turn navigation with audible directions. In addition, they can compare frequently updated fuel costs at gas stations near their location. AAA also provides free route planning, gas station and fuel price information online through the TripTik Travel Planner at

5. Fill up gas tank before it empties

With gas prices nearing record levels, motorists who attempt to stretch a tank of gas too far could end up stranded at the roadside. AAA cautions drivers that allowing their car to run out of fuel can not only put them in a potentially dangerous situation, but also could result in costly repair bills. AAA recommends drivers always maintain at least a quarter tank of fuel

  • Running a vehicle extremely low on fuel may cause sediment in the bottom of the tank to clog the fuel pump pickup, the fuel filter or even the fuel injectors. In addition, when a minimum level of fuel is not maintained it could cause the electric fuel pump inside the tank to overheat. The cost to replace that one component alone can be $500 or more in parts and labor.
  • Running out of gas also can put the personal safety of a motorist and their passengers in jeopardy should the vehicle suddenly become immobilized on the roadway. Power steering and brakes can be lost when the engine dies, and drivers can end up stranded in the middle of a busy highway without the ability to move their vehicle.

AAA offers more than 40 ways motorists can reduce the amount of fuel they consume in its "Gas Watchers Guide" available online at

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at