U.S. motorists have long had an infatuation with cars and the freedom to travel far and wide on the country’s open highways. But now drivers are getting squeezed by higher prices at the gas pumps.
American gas prices are still low compared to those in numerous other countries across the globe, but that may be small consolation for U.S. motorists. For this time of year in the United States, gas prices are the highest ever - about $1 a liter - and threaten to head even higher as many families embark on vacations once schools recess for the summer months.
The steep prices at the pump have become a focal point in the national presidential campaign, with one pre-election survey showing that voters' disapproval of President Barack Obama's handling of the U.S. economy is growing as they pay increasing prices at the pump.
Mr. Obama, a Democrat running for another four-year term, says there is no quick solution to the rising prices but notes that the country has cut its dependency on importing foreign oil. He says the country still needs to increase its use of clean energy technology to reduce the demand for oil even further. Republican presidential contenders seeking to oust him say Mr. Obama has mishandled the American economy and that their policies would reduce the cost of gas for motorists.
About three-fourths of the cost of gas that motorists pay is influenced by the price of oil on the world market. As a result, prices at service station pumps tend to rise or fall according to the fluctuations in the price of crude oil.
In recent months, the price of oil has steadily risen, in part because of the West’s contentious standoff with oil-producing Iran over development of its nuclear program and fears that Iran could cut off its oil exports. In some countries, taxes also play a key role in the cost of gasoline, as well as whether a country has to import oil for refining because it has no ready source of its own.
Here are some current gasoline prices - in U.S. currency per liter - from around the globe, as compiled by the Internet travel web site mytravelcost.com.