LOS ANGELES --- Price increases at Southern California gas pumps came fast and furious this past week in an earlier-than-usual spring price run-up, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California's Weekend Gas Watch.

The average price of self-serve regular gasoline in the Los Angeles-Long Beach area was $3.368 --- 16.9 cents higher than the previous week, 24 cents more than last month, and 57 cents above last year.

In San Diego, the price was $3.433 --- 17.9 cents more than the previous week's price, 31 cents above last month, and 60 cents higher than last year. On the Central Coast, the average price was $3.532 --- up 16.8 cents from the previous week, 26 cents above last month, and 56 cents more than last year. In the Inland Empire, the average price was $3.392 --- 17.6 cents above the previous week, up 29 cents from last month, and 57 cents higher than last year.

"Southern Californians are used to seeing gas prices rise quickly in the springtime, but this three-penny-a-day level of price increases is usually seen in March or April," said Auto Club spokesperson Jeffrey Spring. "San Diego is already within seven cents of its all-time record price, Santa Barbara is within eight cents, and most other areas are within 15 cents of breaking records. Oil industry analysts are saying that this spring's price spike is primarily being driven by investors bidding up the price of wholesale gasoline and oil."