Americans are driving less because of high gas prices

Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN - Getty Images

Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN – Getty Images

  • New research from AAA reports that 64% of drivers have made significant changes to their driving habits in response to higher gas prices this summer, with 88% of that segment reporting that they are driving less.

  • Natural gas prices have retreated from highs seen in the second week of June, when the national average price of gasoline reached $5.00 a gallon. The national average on August 1 is reported at $4.21 a gallon.

  • Only a small percentage of survey respondents have switched to a more fuel-efficient or electric vehicle in response to higher gas prices this summer.

This spring and summer have already brought the sharpest rise in gas prices in years, and while prices have retreated from the $5.00 highs seen in the first week of June, the nation’s car owners are still feel many other effects of gasoline exceeding $4.00 a gallon. Not all results are what you might expect – and not all were easy to predict just a few months ago.

A new survey from AAA revealed that Americans are making significant changes in light of the spike in gas prices, with 64 percent reporting that they have adjusted their driving habits to higher gas prices. Of those, 88% of respondents say they simply drive less, while about half have also cut back on shopping and eating out. A third report has delayed major purchases.

One of minimum The reported changes resulted in driving a more fuel-efficient vehicle—a tactic reported by only 13% of respondents who reported changing their habits—while purchasing an EV was reported by just 2% of drivers.

Of course, shopping for and buying a car hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park these past couple of years, so that explains some of the reluctance to switch vehicles. On the other hand, if $5.00 a gallon of gas ordinary Get more than 2% of drivers to switch to an EV, then lower projected gas prices probably won’t either. Automakers should keep this in mind with future EV marketing efforts.

Overall, the results largely follow a survey released by AAA in March of this year, well before gas prices hit $5.00 a gallon.

“At the time, more than half (59%) said they would change their driving habits or lifestyle if the cost of gas rose to $4 a gallon,” AAA notes. “If natural gas hits $5.00, as it did in June, three-quarters said they would have to adjust their lifestyles to compensate for the spike at the pump. Prices, the majority (80%) said they would choose to drive less.”

Photo: AAA

Photo: AAA

However, the nearly two-thirds of Americans who make major changes to their driving habits aren’t quite the same thing as travel less so, as shown by a sharp recovery in air travel and demand for rental cars this summer. The phenomenon recently described as “revenge travel” appears to be responsible for the sharp rise in air travel despite higher airfares.

When it comes to gas prices the rest of the year, while prices at the pump have retreated from their highs in early June and the summer travel season is well past its peak, that doesn’t necessarily mean gas prices will remain low for the rest of the year. In a few weeks, global markets are expected to reflect the EU’s impending ban on buying most of Russia’s oil exports, while gas prices are expected to soar during Europe’s heating season.

While there is some disagreement among industry watchers about how much this will affect U.S. gasoline prices, there are signs that major industries in Europe, as well as consumers, will face dramatically higher prices for gasoline, diesel, natural gas and other types of energy from fossil fuels. Further disruption to heavy industry in Europe as a result of higher gas prices appears certain, which could cause new car and parts prices to rise further.

The current lull in gas prices in the state (if it can be described as such, given the current national average of $4.21 (as of Monday, Aug. 1), could be a transition phase before a tumultuous fall and winter of energy prices in the EU and beyond.

Higher gas prices this summer have forced you to drive less or change other driving habits? Let us know in the comments below.

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