Prices Spike; 9 in 10 See Rising Gas Prices Causing Family Hardship

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Undated (AP) Oil prices have spiked above $143 a barrel for the first time, while the nationwide average for a gallon of regular unleaded approaches $4.09 per gallon according to AAA and the oil price information service.

Meanwhile, nine in 10 people responding to a new Associated Press-Yahoo News poll say they expect the ballooning costs to hurt them over the next six months.

To cope, most are driving less, easing off the air conditioning and heating at home and cutting corners elsewhere. Half are scaling back vacation plans; nearly as many are considering buying cars that burn less gas.

Two-thirds now consider gas prices an extremely important issue, edging the economy and outpacing health care and Iraq as the country's most distressing problem. In November, when gas cost about $1 a gallon less than today, just under half rated it
extremely important.