High gas prices: Check your tank

As if skyrocketing gas prices weren’t bad enough, AAA Mid-Atlantic is reporting that the number of roadside assistance calls for drivers running out of gas in D.C. has shot up almost 40 percent in April compared to the same time last year.

AAA is blaming the increase in calls to the soaring cost of gas in the region. In the last month, the price of a gallon of gas has risen $0.30 across the nation and is almost $1 more than the same time last year.

Gas prices in the District are $0.21 higher than the national average to about $4.05. So if you are going to drive for the holidays, you may want get gas where you are visiting rather than closer to home.

The Obama administration said Thursday that it wants to crack down on the cost of gasoline and other forms of energy. President Barack Obama is creating a Justice Department team to find out what's behind the $4 a gallon gasoline prices.

He said the idea is to look for any "fraud or manipulation" in oil markets that might be driving prices up. "That includes the role of traders and speculators. We are going to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American consumers for their own short-term gain," Obama said.

AAA Mid-Atlantic's Townsend said drivers should be careful not to push their luck too far. “In the wake of the high cost of gasoline some consumers are trying to push the envelope, but running on fumes can put you into the harm’s way, leave you stranded, and severely damage your vehicle,” he said. “Higher gas prices may be contributing to more people running out of gas because they are trying to stretch each tank further than normal.”

Out-of-gas calls To AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Roadside Assistance Operations:

Up 39 Percent in Washington, D.C.
Up 36.8 Percent in Maryland.
Up 27.5 Percent in Virginia

(From April 1 to April 20, 2011, compared to same period a year ago)