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AAA: Drivers Altering Habits at $3.44 a Gallon

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April 24, 2013 by   Leave a Comment

A new survey from AAA says consumers’ attitudes about gas prices and driving behavior begins to change once gas prices near $3.50 a gallon.

Cincinnati.com reported that half of more than 1,000 U.S. adults told AAA prices are too high when they reach $3.44 a gallon. Nearly two-thirds of Americans told the travel club that they are coping with higher gasoline prices by changing their driving habits or lifestyles. Data from AAA’s consumer price index were released Tuesday (April 23).

Ninety percent of drivers believe prices are too high when they reach $4 a gallon. Less than five years ago, the national average for regular gasoline was $4 a gallon, but residents of large cities including Chicago have had to deal with that mark for long stretches of time since then.

“It is possible there is a new normal in terms of consumer attitudes now that gas prices have remained above $3 per gallon for more than two years,” said AAA President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Darbelnet.

The average price in Northern Kentucky has been above $3.44 for 84 days, or 75% of the time, this year. In Southwest Ohio, prices were above that level for 74 days, or 66% of the time.

If that sounds bad, it is actually better than last year. In 2012, the average price in Northern Kentucky was higher than the $3.44 mark 86% of the time, while it was higher 71% of the time in Southwest Ohio.

The most common way — at 86% — adults surveyed said they coped with higher gas prices was driving less. A majority of adults also said they reduced shopping or dining out, drove a more fuel efficient car or delayed major purchases.

Public transportation agencies often identify higher gasoline prices as a development that helps boost ridership in many locales, but only 15% of people surveyed said they used the service more frequently when prices rise. Young adults more apt to coping work closer to home or use public transit than adults age 35 and older.

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