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Is Paying More Than $3 a Gallon for Gas New Normal?

Drivers aren't happy about gas prices staying above $3 a gallon, but fewer are carpooling or otherwise changing their habits to offset the expense, says Mid-Atlantic AAA.

Drivers aren't happy about gas prices staying above $3 a gallon, but fewer are changing their habits to offset the expense, says Mid-Atlantic AAA. File|Patch
Drivers aren't happy about gas prices staying above $3 a gallon, but fewer are changing their habits to offset the expense, says Mid-Atlantic AAA. File|Patch

Drivers seem to be used to paying more than $3 a gallon for gas and and many are less likely to change their driving habits or lifestyle to offset gas prices, according to a new survey by AAA.

Only half of U.S. adults (53 percent) are doing something to offset gas prices, which is about 15 percent less than in spring 2013. This development comes as gas prices continue to be relatively less expensive compared to previous years.

“Many people seem to be feeling less pressure to make significant changes in their lives because of high gas prices,” said Ragina Cooper-Averella with Mid-Atlantic AAA. “Relatively less expensive gasoline compared to other years may encourage people to drive more and worry less about the financial burden of filling up their tanks.”

Gas prices generally have remained less expensive than in previous years due to increased production and supplies. The national average price of gas may not even reach $3.65 per gallon this spring, which would be nearly 15 cents less than the peak in 2013 and about 30 cents less than in 2012.

“People may be less likely to change their habits, but they do not seem any happier when filling up at the gas pump,” Averella said. “Many drivers grudgingly realize that paying more than $3 per gallon for gasoline is the new normal, but they remain frustrated with the price.”

Most people continue to believe that gas prices are too high with the results similar to a year ago. According to the survey:

  • 40 percent believe gas is too high when the price reaches $3.00 per gallon
  • 50 percent believe gas is too high when the price reaches $3.30 per gallon
  • 65 percent believe gas is too high when the price reaches $3.50 per gallon
  • 91 percent believe gas is too high when the price reaches $4.00 per gallon 

Roughly half of Americans say they are changing their driving habits or lifestyle to offset gas prices. Those doing so report:

  • Combining errands or trips: 85 percent
  • Driving less: 84 percent
  • Reducing shopping or dining out: 68 percent
  • Delaying major purchases: 52 percent
  • Driving a more fuel-efficient vehicle: 49 percent
  • Putting aside less money for savings: 42 percent
  • Working closer to home: 41 percent
  • Carpooling: 30 percent
  • Using public transportation more regularly: 17 percent

Adults ages 18-34 were significantly more likely than older adults to change their habits to offset prices by working closer to home (60 percent vs. 34 percent), carpooling (49 percent vs. 23 percent) and using public transportation more regularly (32 percent vs. 11 percent).

AAA offers the following fuel savings tips for people frustrated with high gas prices:

  1. Accelerate gradually. Avoid jackrabbit starts.
  2. Anticipate your stops. When approaching a red light, let your foot off the gas as early as possible.
  3. Avoid long warm-ups in the morning. They’re unnecessary and waste fuel.
  4. Use air conditioning. Today’s air conditioners create less drag on the engine than driving with the windows open.
  5. Maintain recommended tire pressure. Low pressure reduces fuel economy and can damage tires.
  6. Keep the air filter clean. Clogged filters reduce fuel economy and increase exhaust emissions.
  7. Slow down. If you travel at 60 mph instead of 70 mph on your 20-mile highway commute, you would save about 1.3 gallons of gas in a five-day work week.
  8. Combine errands. If possible, park in a central spot and walk from place to place.
  9. Don’t use your trunk for storage. The heavier your car, the more fuel it uses.
  10. Shop around on the web or via your mobile app for the best gas price. AAA’s Fuel Price Finder and mobile app are free to members and non-members alike and can be found at AAA.com/Gas.
Roger April 04, 2014 at 09:09 AM
More teabot psychobabble. Say what you really think.
Mr. Mxyzptlk April 04, 2014 at 09:18 AM
Must you call names Roger? What about the tolerance you liberals push. Oh, that's just for "other people?" I think Obama has been bad for America. I voted for him the first time. It was clear by the second term he was a disaster.
Bob Bobbers April 04, 2014 at 09:27 AM
Mr. Mxyzptlk, what do you think Obama's "master plan" is?
Mr. Mxyzptlk April 04, 2014 at 09:30 AM
It was a jape Bobbers.
Mr. Mxyzptlk April 04, 2014 at 02:41 PM
...and it's always fun to poke the progressives who so quickly resort to name calling, intolerance and Obama apologetics.

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