High Gas Prices Forcing You to Drive Less?

Over the span of the past 18 months, the national average price of gasoline has jumped from a low of $2.13 per gallon (February 2007) to a high of $4.12 (July 2008), back down to today’s current price of $3.69.

While the price decline over the past two months has come as a relief, the 75% price increase between early 2007 and now is clearly unprecedented and has to have made a profound impact on many of our personal finances.

And since money doesn’t grow on trees – especially in this slumping economy – chances are you’ve had to cut back somewhere in order to account for having less money in your pocket. According to a recent poll on GasBuddy.com, nearly 70% of us have reduced the amount of driving we do in order to cope with higher gasoline prices.

The poll asked “Have you changed your driving due to increased fuel costs over the last 1-2 years?” Here’s how over 27,000 people responded:

  • 2% are driving more in spite of the cost
  • 21% are driving about the same amount
  • 37% are driving a little less
  • 32% are driving a lot less
  • 5% have change their driving habits for reasons other than costs

The fact that so many of us have chosen to reduce the amount we drive makes plenty of sense because, obviously, the easiest way to offset higher gasoline costs is to simply not drive as much. Not really rocket science.

For those driver who haven’t made any changes, there could be several explanations why:

  • they’ve bought a more fuel efficient vehicle, so now it doesn’t cost as much to drive
  • it’s simply impossible for them to drive less due to to a long commute, driving is part of their job, etc.
  • they’ve cut costs in other aspects of their life to make up the difference
  • they can afford the extra cost and don’t need to make an adjustment

(I’d certainly like to fall into that last group!)

Hopefully now that Hurricane Gustav has cleared out of the Gulf and left the region’s oil production and refining facilities unscathed, we’ll see the price of gas continue to fall further into winter.

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