AAA Identifies Motorist Breaking Point On Gas Prices in New Consumer Index

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AAA Identifies Motorist Breaking Point On Gas Prices in New Consumer Index

Nearly two-thirds of consumers offset high gas prices with driving or lifestyle changes

Half of U.S. adults consider gas prices to be "too high" when it reaches $3.44 per gallon, indicating a potential breaking point on gas prices, according to a new national consumer price index developed by AAA. Roughly two-thirds of Americans (62 percent) are offsetting high gas prices by changing their driving habits or lifestyle.

"Just a few short years ago, drivers were shocked to pay more than $3 per gallon," according to Jim Lehman, president of AAA East Central. "The continued trend of higher gas prices has resulted in consumers adjusting their "breaking point closer to $3.50 per gallon. Although high gas prices alone have not impacted vacation travel, fuel costs have forced many motorists to change their daily driving habits," he added.

AAA's gas-price index tracks consumer attitudes by determining at what price the cost of gasoline becomes too high. The results from the open-ended survey demonstrate how attitudes can be expected to change as prices rise above significant milestones: *** 46 percent believe gas is too high when the price reaches $3.00 per gallon *** 61 percent believe gas is too high when the price reaches $3.50 per gallon *** 90 percent believe gas is too high when the price reaches $4.00 per gallon

According to AAA's index, consumers report changing their driving habits
 or lifestyle in a number of ways to offset recent gas prices, including: 
***	Driving less -- 86 percent
***	Reducing shopping or dining out -- 71 percent
***	Driving a more fuel efficient car -- 54 percent
***	Delaying major purchases -- 53 percent
***	Working closer to home -- 39 percent
***	Carpooling -- 33 percent
***	Using public transportation more regularly -- 15 percent
***	Other -- 18 percent

Younger consumers ages 18-34 are more likely to offset recent gas prices by working closer to home or using public transportation more regularly than adults ages 35 and up (48 percent vs. 35 percent and 25 percent vs. 10 percent, respectively). These results could suggest a generational shift in terms of attitudes towards driving, but it is too early to say whether these attitudes would continue into the future.

Today's national average price of gasoline is $3.512 per gallon, but prices currently vary by more than $1 per gallon nationwide. The national average has remained above $3.00 per gallon for 28 consecutive months. Louisville hit its record high, $4.025, on September 17, 2008. Today Louisville motorists are paying an average $3.506 per gallon, down 45 cents from last year.

AAA developed the price index by asking respondents, "At what price do you start to consider the cost of gasoline to be too high? Please tell me the price per gallon to the nearest ten cents." AAA combined the answers from 974 respondents to determine the potential consumer breaking point for high gas prices.

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