Driving one of the hybrids? Conserving fuel by driving less?
Or just making an effort to quit making those 'jack-rabbit' starts?
It 's not important WHAT you're doing, but for god's sake -
Rising gas prices are impacting Americans' lifestyles, leading many car owners to adjust travel plans, tighten their budgets, and lean toward purchasing small, fuel-efficient vehicles. These are the findings of a recent online survey conducted by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.
The responses also show that most drivers have accepted the new reality of $3-a-gallon gasoline. In fact, 72 percent of respondents expect fuel costs to be even higher in a year and 50 percent are prepared to pay $4 a gallon, according to the survey that included 2,459 adult drivers and was conducted from May 3-5, 2006.
PRICES IMPACT LIFESTYLE
In the past five years, gasoline prices have jumped 250 percent, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy. The financial impact on our survey group is significant, based on their average of 13,199 annual miles driven and 21.9 miles per gallon. At current prices, their driving behavior translates to an average annual gasoline bill of $1,780, or $1,000 more than what the bill would have been five years ago ($710).
In the short-term, consumers reported little flexibility to reduce their driving related to commuting or personal/family transportation. So to compensate for higher fuel bills, drivers are adjusting their lifestyles and household budgets in a variety of ways:
42 percent of respondents strongly agreed that they will drive less
39 percent will change vacation plans
38 percent will spend less money in restaurants and on entertainment
38 percent will drive more smoothly to increase fuel mileage
36 percent reported that they will have more difficulty paying for essentials like food and health care. Despite the hit to the wallet, few claimed they would seek alternative transportation, such as bicycle, carpool, or public transit.
Overall, 84 percent of consumers indicated that they took action in the last month to compensate for the elevated gasoline prices. Two-thirds shopped around for better prices at the pump, with 31 percent choosing a lesser-known petroleum brand. Almost as many, 28 percent, used the Internet to compare gas prices.