COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — After a year of record-high gas prices, analysts are forecasting relief for Ohioans in 2023.

Barring any major catastrophes, petroleum analysts at GasBuddy.com don’t expect the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gas to rise above $4 per gallon, but it could come close.

Gas prices in Columbus peaked around $5 per gallon last June, forcing drivers to make changes.

“We usually travel a lot, but we didn’t travel as much as we normally have,” said Carmulita Bender, adding that she’s hopeful to go on vacation once again in 2023.

“You have to cut back on different things – groceries– different things,” said her fiancé, Brandon Smith, who was relieved to pay $2.90 a gallon Monday afternoon in Columbus’ Old North neighborhood.

According to GasBuddy’s fuel price outlook, analysts predict a yearly U.S. average price of $3.49 per gallon, with prices peaking around $4 during traditional times of high demand, like summer.

“2023 is not going to be a cakewalk for motorists. It could be expensive,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, in a blog post. “The national average could breach $4 per gallon as early as May – and that’s something that could last through much of the summer driving season. Basically, curveballs are coming from every direction.” 

The projected lower prices are enough to have drivers shifting into a more optimistic gear for 2023.

“The hope for 2023, I think for everybody, is that things just start to feel more manageable,” said driver Rachel Childs. “This, for the time being, is our main mode of transportation and it’s really infringing on people’s ability to go to work and see their family and just feel comfortable.”

Petroleum analysts expect the east and west coasts to be impacted by higher fuel prices in 2023. GasBuddy’s outlook predicts peak prices of nearly $7 per gallon in some parts of California.