This time last year, gas cost about $1.50 a gallon and your folks were probably complaining about it. With gas now $2 or more, last summer's prices seem like a deal. But why is gas so expensive all of a sudden?

* We use a lot of gas. The next time you're on a trip with your family, count the number of sport utility vehicles you see. There are more than 84 million of them on U.S. roads. SUVs use a lot more gas than do regular cars, and their popularity is a major reason why Americans use 24 percent more gas than we did in 1990.

* What gas is made from costs more. Crude oil, pumped from the ground and used to make gasoline, sells for about $41 a barrel today. That's about $16 higher than this time last year. The United States buys more than 60 percent of its crude oil from other countries, mostly in the Middle East. Those countries are limiting how much oil they produce, which usually sends the price up.

* Worry over the violence in the Middle East. Since so much crude oil comes from the Middle East, the war in Iraq and continued violence in Israel have people concerned that an attack or accident could stop the flow of some of that oil. If less oil were coming from the Middle East, gas prices would go even higher.