Gas Prices Rise, Americans Drive Less

Posted: April 12, 2011

Americans are taking rising gas prices seriously. They’re already driving less, “reversing what had been a steady increase in demand for fuel,” the Associated Press writes. “For five weeks in a row, they have bought less gas than they did a year ago.”

The average price of gas is an obvious indicator of why national fuel consumption is dropping. At the end of March, AAA reported that gas reached an average of $3.60 nationally. Today, AAA says the national average is $3.79 for regular grade, a 29 cent jump in about two weeks. Business Week reports that many analysts forecast that these numbers will worsen, and expect that consumers could pay as much as $5 a gallon this year due to political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East, which supply much of the United States’ oil. The $5 per gallon speculation has been floating around the industry for some time, but last year, CNN stated that former president of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister predicted that Americans could pay $5 a gallon by 2012. Analysts have bumped that date up.

“Drivers are already reacting to the change,” writes Kicking Tires. “In the first week of April, consumption was down 3.6%, or 2.4 million gallons of gasoline,” based on data from MasterCard Spending Pulse.

One of the best ways to combat rising gas prices is to drive less, but there are other simple things you can do. One is to change your driving habits, and keep up with car maintenance. For example, roll to a stop rather than accelerating and braking abruptly, and make sure your tires are properly inflated. You can also consolidate your outings into one trip in order to stay on the road less. Another option is to use public transportation. In most cases, that means your commute will take longer, but you will save a lot of money. Depending on where you live, you could save $1,200 a month when you account for parking fees.

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