Gas purchases account for only about 5 percent of all consumer spending in the U.S. It would take a much bigger spike in prices - to about $5 a gallon - to shake consumers and threaten the economy. Gas prices in the Washington area, at $4.08 on average, are substantially higher than the national average. (Associated Press)

Gas purchases account for only about 5 percent of all consumer spending in the U.S. It would take a much bigger spike in prices - to about $5 a gallon - to shake consumers and threaten the economy. Gas prices in the Washington area, at $4.08 on average, are substantially higher than the national average. (Associated Press)