Higher prices at the pump affecting driver behavior

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The cost of a gallon of gas in the nation’s capital is expected to hit $4 dollars a gallon today, a benchmark that AAA Mid-Atlantic says is changing the driving habits of motorists.

Gas prices have gone up more than 50 cents a gallon over the past two months across the country. According to a recent nationwide survey conducted by AAA, 84 percent of U.S. drivers and consumers say they have already changed their driving habits or lifestyle in some way in response to the higher prices.  Combining trips and errands was the most commonly reported cost-cutting measure, with 60 percent of respondents having already made this adjustment.

“Consumers have a raw and visceral disdain for the high cost of gasoline,” John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s manager of public and government affairs, said in a statement. “Talk about pain at the pump. It’s real; it’s palpable; and it’s stomach-churning. Consumer angst and anger continue to mount with each passing day, and consumers believe their financial wherewithal is being sabotaged by high gas prices.”

A fill-up is costing the average motorist across the country $57 a week, the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report shows. It’s $59.85 a week in Washington, D.C., proper, for each car in the driveway, (based on a 15-gallon gasoline tank). Nearly nine in 10 (87 percent) respondents said they would change their driving habits if prices remain at current levels for a sustained period.
For instance, recent increases have led 16 percent of respondents to purchase or lease a more fuel-efficient vehicle.  The AAA survey shows that this number would more than double — jumping to 34 percent, if prices remain high.

AAA’s telephone survey included 1,024 adults and was conducted March 1-4.

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