WINDSOR, ONT. -- Gas prices are about 30 cents higher right now than this time last year, and it’s largely due to demand brought on by the recent economic recovery from COVID-19, according to at least one expert.

“US demand is actually back to pre-pandemic levels and even has surpassed it,” says Vijay Muralidharan, a senior consultant with Kalibrate Canada. “So that is enabling a high gasoline pricing through high demand, and that’s spilling over into our territory.”

According to GasBuddy.com, prices in Windsor Friday ranged from $1.28 to $1.36, a price that’s pinching drivers like Fae Preston.

“I’m just a working individual, so it’s a little high,” she says.

Preston says the steep prices are having an impact on her ability to get around, changing her summer driving habits.

“I had to kind of stop driving and stop hanging out with some friends because I couldn’t really afford to drive,” Preston says.

Muralidharan says high crude prices and high demand are the key drivers pushing prices up more than usual, adding gas taxes and summer driving season also play a big role — and neither is going away.

“In August, you’re going to see these levels sustain, unfortunately,” Muralidharan predicts.

The silver lining — he says — is that high demand speaks to a recovering economy.

Barring out any imminent threats to close Line 5 pipeline in Michigan or another crisis like the blockage of the Suez Canal, Muralidharan says there are indications that crude prices are expected to drop slightly in September.

“OPEC has increased supply and they’re going to increase it in a measured way and that’s good news for all of us,” he says.