Gas Prices Set Another Record

5/27/2008 Fresno, CA -----------------------------------------------------------------
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In Fresno: gas prices topped $4.20 a gallon.

In Merced: one penny less at $4.19 a gallon.

And it's the same in the south Valley.

The latest figures show the biggest monthly drop in driving in nearly 70 years. With gas prices soaring, consumers are responding, by cutting back, and that's making the going a little easier for those on the road.

Traffic was just a little lighter on California highways over the holiday weekend. The highway patrol noticed. "Well, the volume of traffic is slightly less for a maximum enforcement period, the memorial day holiday, so that's a plus," said Kirk Arnold with the Highway Patrol

A "AAA" survey shows for the first time in 6 years Americans actually appear to be driving less this year.

"Normally we go out of town somewhere and we didn't," said Kathy Henderson of Fresno. She said the reason is simple: The surge in gas prices. "I can believe that. I was really surprised. When I pulled up just now and realized how much it had jumped up since the last time I filled up."

The trend to drive less started in March.

The latest figures from the Federal Highway Administration show Americans drove 4% percent less in March of this year, than last year.

This may not sound like much but it's the biggest month to month drop since the agency started compiling figures in 1942. It translates into 11 billion fewer miles driven. The trend is expected to intensify over the summer.

"The plus side is during the holidays and during the summer you may be able to actually go the speed limit. Whereas if there's a high volume of traffic you're going to have congested freeways and increase in traffic collisions and those sorts of things," said Kirk.

The numbers are expected to be even higher for April and May, as gas prices have soared dramatically. In addition to travel plans, Kathy said she'll be changing the way she gets to work. "I'm definitely car-pooling with another friend."

The California Highway Patrol says 163 people were arrested for D.U.I. between Friday and Sunday, and three people were killed in accidents on state highways.

Last memorial day, 203 people were arrested for D.U.I., with three fatalities.

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