You may pay more than ever for a late-summer drive.

U.S. drivers paid an average of $3.72 per gallon Monday. That’s the highest price ever on this date, according to auto club AAA, a shade above the $3.717 average on Aug. 20, 2008. A year ago, the average was $3.578.

More daily records are likely over the next few weeks. The national average could increase to $3.75 per gallon by Labor Day, said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service.

By comparison, gas prices stayed below $3.70 in late August and early September in both 2008 and 2011.

Kloza and other analysts expect prices to start dropping after Labor Day, so drivers shouldn’t have to worry about a return to the April high of $3.94 per gallon, barring a hurricane or other unforeseen event.

Retail gasoline prices have risen nearly 12 percent since July 1, because of higher oil prices, and problems with refineries and pipelines that created temporary supply shortages in some regions. An increase in the price of ethanol, which is blended into gasoline, also contributed to the rise in pump prices.

Higher gas prices aren’t what the sluggish economy needs, since any extra money that goes to fill gas tanks doesn’t get spent at movie theaters or restaurants.

The pace of the increases has slowed considerably, however. Gas rose 19 cents in the two weeks that ended Wednesday. It’s up just 1 penny in the five days since. Gas costs about 26 cents more than a month ago and 14 cents more than a year ago, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express.

Across the United States, prices range from a low of $3.43 per gallon in South Carolina to $4.32 in Hawaii. Arizona, Mississippi and New Mexico also have average prices below $3.50 per gallon, while California and Illinois are up above the $4 mark.

A few drivers are catching a break. Kloza said gas prices are lower than this date in 2011 in four states — Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho.

The price at the pump in the United States fell more than 60 cents per gallon during the spring as the global economy slowed and turmoil in the Middle East seemed to subside.

But crude oil has risen above $95 a barrel from a low of $78 in late June.