One month after drivers balked at the highest gas prices in history, the cost of fuel in the region has been rapidly dropping.

Jeffrey Spring, spokesman for the Auto Club of Southern California, said Friday that gas in San Bernardino and Riverside counties costs 25 cents less than it did last month and 8.6 cents less than last week.

Fuel prices have fallen about a penny a day in the past month, with consumers now paying 7 cents less than they did this time last year, Spring said.

Darrell Lewis of Fontana said he was relieved by the lower gas prices.

"I think it's great," said Lewis, 18. "I don't have money to pay high gas prices."

It's already made about a $20 difference in his budget, he said.

For Dan Cross, 44, of Temple City - who filled up at $3.05 a gallon at an Arco station on Archibald Avenue in Ontario - the new numbers mean more family outings.

"Instead of putting it in the gas tank, I can take my boys out to the beach and spend it going fishing," Cross said.

While the decreasing prices are good news for those planning a summer road trip, some are still skeptical.

"It scares me," Veronica Moran, 33, said at a Thrifty station charging $3.03 a

gallon on Sierra Avenue in Fontana. "I think it'll go way up again all of a sudden."

Spring said the volatile nature of gas prices in the past few years - with extreme highs and lows - are partly due to traders and analysts increasingly looking to make a buck in the market on oil and gas.

Another factor at play is unrest in the Middle East.

In years past, the price of fuel was primarily dictated by supply and demand, Spring said.

A hike in the spring is standard as refineries go out of commission to clean out their systems and do repairs before switching formulas for the warmer months, he said.

But since drivers in the region paid the highest ever - $3.48 a gallon - on May 8, the direction of gas prices has been decidedly downward.

Pricey commutes have influenced the patterns of drivers - including Spring - in recent years.

"It started to change my habits when it hit $2.50 a gallon two years ago," Spring said. "I started car-pooling, and I didn't hit the gas as much."

Eva Shipman, 65, of Rancho Cucamonga said the prices last month made her change her driving habits, too.

"It was terrible," Shipman said, while filling up for $3.05 a gallon at a Sam's Club station on Milliken Avenue in Ontario. "I drove less, and I tried to do everything while I was out."

Silvia Vargas, 42, of Perris said she isn't celebrating the lower prices just yet.

"It's still too high. I'm a mother of eight who has to (drive) kids back and forth to school and to work," Vargas said, sitting among seven passengers in a Ford Excursion at the Thrifty station in Fontana.

"It affects us. It has gone down, but not low enough."

Spring said if things hold out, gas prices at many stations in the region will be below $3 a gallon in the next weeks.

Linda Wubker, 47, of Fontana said the lower gas prices today are all a matter of perspective.

"When it hit $2, we were really upset," Wubker said. "Now we're all happy that it's hit $3."

Staff writer Selicia Kennedy-Ross contributed to this report.

Average price per gallon of unleaded gas in San Bernardino and Riverside counties by year:

6/15/02-6/14/03: $1.72

6/15/03-6/14/04: $1.94

6/15/04-6/14/05: $2.27

6/15/05-6/14/06: $2.75

6/15/06-6/14/07: $2.94

6/15/07: $3.22

- Auto Club of Southern California


BS Ranch Perspective

The Announcement was just out on Sunday that Gas prices was down to $3.00 a Gallon, and which was great information. We will see how long it will last. I guess that people have not been going anywhere or doing anything this summer and the people have been staying home. Now they lower the price and entice the Americans to venture out and Vacation!

BS Ranch