Despite the relief of many drivers as prices have fallen in recent weeks, that feeling is largely a matter of perception. Gas prices continue to put a significant dent in the wallets of many Americans. But many drivers expected the situation to be worse right now, so seeing prices linger below the $4 mark seems like a victory, however small.
"You're about as miserable as you were last year, but you were prepared to be much more miserable," Kloza said. "It's like you're prepared for a 100-degree day and you got 90 degrees. It's still uncomfortable; it still crimps consumer spending. But it's not quite the crisis that some people were calling for."