DOE: Gasoline Hits Record for 4th Week

American drivers were hit with record gasoline prices for the fourth week in a row as pump costs rose to an average $2.28 a gallon last week, the government said Monday.

The national price for regular unleaded gasoline rose 6.3 cents over the past week and is up 49 cents from a year ago, according to a weekly survey of service stations by the Energy Information Administration (search).

Pump prices are forecast to go even higher, reaching a peak of $2.35 a gallon in May, according to the Energy Department's (search) analytical arm. When adjusted for inflation, gasoline cost the most in March 1981 at $3.12 a gallon, the EIA said.

Gasoline prices are much higher in Europe, where drivers pay $5 to $6 a gallon.

Nonetheless, high U.S. fuel prices have made consumers turn away from gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles in favor of more fuel-efficient cars.

Ford Motor Co. (F), the No. 2 U.S. automaker, has cut its 2005 earnings forecast due in part to rising gasoline prices, which it said were hurting sales of its high-margin SUVs.

Truckers also continue to suffer at the pump, as the price for diesel fuel rose 1.3 cents to a record $2.32 a gallon, up 64 cents from a year ago, the EIA said.

Truckers on the West Coast paid the most for diesel at $2.59 a gallon, up 4.4 cents from last week. The lower Atlantic states along the East Coast had the cheapest diesel at $2.24 a gallon, up about half a penny.