Gas Prices Forcing Drivers to Change Habits

March 4, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
It's not spring yet, but gasoline prices have gotten a jump on the calendar.For some parts of the country, like northern California, the much-feared four dollar gallon of gas is already a reality.

Gas prices have gone up for the third week in a row in almost every region of the country. And now, the high prices are forcing drivers to change their ways.

In the last six weeks, Americans bought less gas than they did a year ago. The first sustained drop in 16 years.

Denver driver Barbara Chelton still runs errands in her SUV, but now goes to work on the train. "When the gas prices went up two years ago, I knew I needed to make some sort of change," said Chelton.

Analysts say driving is traditionally the last place Americans are willing to cut back. But they are now, due to a sluggish economy, and record high crude oil prices that are pushing up prices at the pump.

U.S. gasoline supplies are at a 14 year high, consumer demand is down, but it doesn't seem to matter. "Those fundamentals are being ignored by the market that is being driven by an overall appetite for commodities in general, crude oil in particular," said Addison Armstrong of Commodity Research, Traditional Energy.

It's forcing us to change the vehicles we drive, as well. Last month's auto sales showed a rapid slowdown in sales of traditional gas guzzlers like pickup trucks and SUVs'. And hybrid sales are up.


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