Only once in the last 20 years have gasoline prices peaked before mid-May. Oil prices haven't been that remarkably predictable, but one could usually expect them to peak sometime during the U.S. summer driving season, experts say. But in 2012, the old patterns don't seem to apply.
The U.S. average for a gallon of regular gasoline has dropped steadily since April 5, when it reached its high for the year, so far, of $3.926 a gallon, according to Marie Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the Automobile Club of Southern California. The current national average is $3.816 a gallon, down 0.3 cents overnight and down 4.2 cents since last week.
U.S. gas prices haven't peaked before mid-May since 1998, according to Energy Department records.
California gasoline prices were the first in the nation to fall. They peaked at $4.362 a gallon on March 14, Montgomery said. The current California average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $4.163, down 0.4 cents overnight and off 2.5 cents since last week.
Prices are posted daily on the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, using data compiled from more than 120,000 retail outlets around the nation by the Oil Price Information Service and by Wright Express.