Average gas prices in the Bay Area have skyrocketed in the past month, jumping by 51 cents to $4.41 per gallon, according to a report released this week by AAA.
The increase in local gas prices outpaces the jump in average prices nationwide; AAA officials said that across the country, gas prices rose by 30 cents, to $3.81 per gallon, from February to March.
The region's average gas price is slightly higher than the state's, which is $4.36 per gallon.
AAA officials, who monitor the prices as a service to consumers, say increased buying activity by investors in oil and gas futures and political tensions with Iran have pushed prices upward.
San Francisco is among the cities with the highest average prices in the Bay Area at $4.43 per gallon, while Vallejo is among the lowest in the region at $4.31, according to AAA.
The high prices come despite dropping demand for oil -- a U.S. Department of Energy report released last week found that the nation was using 8.36 million barrels a day, the lowest rate since March 2001.