We say it every summer — "well, gas prices are going up for the summer travel season."

And they are on the rise, but it’s not all due to summer demand, which drives prices up, up, up.

Mike Right with AAA in St. Louis says the spike is also a result of an unexpected rise in crude oil prices. Still, motorists won’t feel the pinch at the pump as bad as last year.

The average gas price in Missouriis about $2.47 a gallon and rising. Right says the Department of Energyhad projected a peak of $2.30 a gallon, but that "their projections are wrong as they usually are" and that a more likely peak is about $2.70.

Last year’s peak, in July, was around $3.95 a gallon. Ouch. He says there is no indication that we’ll reach those kind of prices this year. He says AAA’s preliminary indications is that more motorists will be traveling this year, and farther distances, that people aren’t as fearful of the economic decline as last year and are taking that vacation.

Right says to get the most out ofyour gas tank, keep tires inflated, air filters changed, don’t carry extraweight and slow down. Dropping your speed on the highways by just 10 mph can cut back on gas consumption.

He also recommends being wary of e-mail myths or Internet "tips" that don’t really help save on gas. The best advice, he says, is to follow your car’s instruction manual on octane usage.

And Missourians are doing better than most, Right says. A look at national averages show Missouri in the top half with SouthCarolina having the cheapest gas at $2.37. Hawaii is at the bottom of the list; motorists there are paying about $2.91.

The AAA Web site offers a host of information on gas prices, calculating fuel expenses before hitting the road and more.