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Experts: Gas Prices May Have Hit Their Peak

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Gasoline pump. (Credit: Miguel Gutierrez/Getty Images)

Gasoline pump. (Credit: Miguel Gutierrez/Getty Images)

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Updated 04/11/12 – 8:25 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – After weeks of dour outlooks and record highs, gas prices in greater Chicago have receded – potentially for the rest of the travel season.

Just a few weeks ago, drivers were fretting about the potential for $5 per gallon gas.

But on Wednesday, two different gas experts said we may be at the peak for gas prices, which could start falling soon. That would be good news for summer travel.

CBS 2’s Brad Edwards spoke with Gasbuddy.com analyst Patrick DeHaan, who said we’ve probably seen the worst of gas prices.

“I think the worst of what we’ve seen at the gas pump is over,” he said.

Chicago motorist Stacy DeVoney says she’s gotten used to the helpless feeling of watching gas prices rise, but lately she’s noticed a change.

“It’s not as bad as it was. I think last time I filled up, it was higher,” she said.

Petroleum analyst Phil Flynn told CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey he also thinks we’re done with rising gas prices for the upcoming travel season.

“I think this is it. I think we hit the high,” he said.

Flynn says the worst is over for two reasons. First, stations want to get rid of the winter blend, and will drop the price.

The second factor is the U.S. relationship with major oil countries.

“Now we’re talking with Iran, and just because we’re talking and we’re not shooting, that’s bringing down the cost of oil,” he said.

Charles Milan isn’t buying it; so much so, he drove an extra block to save a dime a gallon on gas.

“It’s $4.53, and it’s $4.43 here. I drove a block to save a dime,” he said.

But Flynn said we could be saving more than a dime a gallon if regular unleaded and diesel fuel prices level out. That’s because jet fuel prices will likely follow, and that could mean a drop in airfare.

“If you see gasoline prices come down, it’s likely that diesel prices will come down as well,” he said.

There’s no indication of how fast prices could drop, but Flynn said we could see cheaper gas and airfare by Memorial Day.

The Chicago record was set on March 24th at $4.56 per gallon – that’s down 23-cents this Wednesday to $4.33 a gallon.

“Given past trends — we’ve reached the top and it’s coming back down,” said DeHaan.

Such professional predictions were greeted with high octane skepticism at local stations.

“I don’t believe it until I see it,” said Andrea Davis – who was filling up in the South Loop on Wednesday.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration added to the good news – potentially – by predicting a continued break during 2013: a $3.73/gallon average, compared to this year’s $3.81.

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