Gas Prices Driving People To Change

4/24/2008 Fresno, CA AAA says the average gallon of gas costs $3.87 in Fresno today. The price in Visalia is $3.89, and in Merced, it's $3.90. Those are all record highs.

The price of gas is affecting just about every aspect of our lives -- from running errands to running a business. And just about everything could be more expensive as a result -- from produce to even pastries.

With prices this high, and fill-ups hitting up to $96, just about everyone feels like they're getting cleaned out at the gas station.

"I think they're ridiculous," said Theron Sanders, of Madera.

Sanders said he can barely afford to keep his Honda Accord on the road.

"It changed the way I work," he said. "It changed the way I do business locally. It changed a lot of things."

Our exclusive Action News-Survey USA poll shows he's not the only one making major changes. We asked people if the price of a gallon of gasoline caused them to change their daily routine. 61 percent said they've changed a lot. 28 percent have changed a little.

"I do about the same thing I always did," said Joe Morse, of Clovis. "But I gripe a lot about it."

Drivers are definitely looking for the cheapest gas. The pumps were packed at a Madera Arco where the price was $3.71 a gallon. But just across the street, where it was 16 cents more, it looked like a ghost town. Those drivers aren't traveling far, though.

The survey also asked if the price of gasoline caused people to change their summer vacation plans. 70 percent of valley residents say it has.

"I expected to go see the country when I retired," said Robert Smiley, of Visalia. "It's not happening."

"I was going to take a trip to Washington and I canceled it," said Josh Madrigales, of Fresno County. "I could just imagine how much it was going to cost us just to get gas."

Local entertainers may actually benefit from the canceled vacations. Last weekend's Monster Jam sold out three nights and concessions were up more than 50% from last year. The Big Fresno Fair could also get more visitors who decide not to leave town.

"I think we're going to have a strong summer," said Big Fresno Fair CEO John Alkire. "People are going to want to stay local. They can't really afford to put in that extra couple tanks of gas."

Just for a little perspective, gas costs more than $8 a gallon in much of Europe, but less than 50 cents a gallon in most oil-producing countries.

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