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New AAA study asks: When is gas too expensive?

By Bob Nagy on May 2, 2013 1:46 PM
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Recently, AAA conducted a study that queried just over 1,000 adults living in the continental U.S. to determine their feelings about when the price of a gallon of gasoline should be considered excessive. For half of the respondents, that figure was $3.44, while 46 percent felt it crossed the line at $3.00, 61 percent saw the breakpoint at $3.50 and 90 percent felt it was over the top at $4.00.

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According to AAA, the national average for a gallon of gasoline has remained above $3.00 for the last 28 months, and currently stands at $3.52. However, that number also varies by more than $1.00 per gallon in various parts of the country. While the national average last topped $4.00 per gallon in 2008, many people living in the Northeast, Great Lakes area or on the West Coast continue to see it regularly exceed that benchmark.

"It was not long ago that motorists were shocked to pay more than $3.00 per gallon for gasoline, but now that is standard at stations nationwide," said Robert L. Darbelnet, President and CEO of AAA. "Today's average consumer feels a breaking point on high gas prices closer to $3.50 per gallon, and expensive prices have forced many motorists to change their driving habits."

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What turned out to be the most common behavior modifications? In addition to discovering that 86 percent of its poll respondents were countering ongoing high gasoline prices by simply cutting back on overall vehicle usage, the AAA also learned that 71 percent had reduced their shopping or dining out activities, 54 percent had begun driving a more fuel-efficient vehicle, 53 percent deferred a major purchase and 39 percent had started working closer to home. Despite increasingly high-profile efforts by various state and local government entities, only 33 percent of those in the AAA survey group replied they were easing pain at the pump by participating in a carpool and a mere 15 percent were now using some form of public transportation on a more regular basis.

 

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