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Gas prices have gone “beyond the tipping point,” conceded John B. Townsend II spokesman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. But gas tax relief may not do enough, he said.

“Do you really alleviate the situation by repealing the gas tax?” he said. “Prices jump 5 cents a gallon overnight.”

The national and Washington-area average price of regular unleaded gas rose to a new record of $3.88 per gallon yesterday, according to Mr. Townsend. The five-cent overnight jump represented the 17th consecutive record. In the District, the average price is $3.96 cents, he said.

“Hopefully people gassed up earlier in the week,” Mr. Townsend said. A survey of credit-card activity by Mastercard shows that motorists are filling up earlier in the week in an effort to avoid weekend price increases, he said.

The price of crude oil rose $1.38 to settle at $132.19 a barrel in New York yesterday.