Gas price surge causing Americans to change driving habits, AAA says

Americans are making changes to their driving habits as US gas prices surge far beyond $4 a gallon — with more motorists considering carpooling or staying home during the spike, according to an AAA survey.

Some 59% of American drivers said they considered $4 per gallon as the point at which they would begin altering their plans to save cash, according to recent survey results published Thursday by the American Automobile Association (AAA). The national average price per gallon is currently a record $4.31.

Even more people — roughly three-quarters of the 1,051 US adults surveyed — said they’d change their driving habits if prices hit $5 per gallon. Analysts have told The Post prices could pass that threshold by a significant amount if the Russia-Ukraine war escalates.

In terms of specific lifestyle changes, 80% of respondents said they would drive less as prices rose. Some 53% of adults age 35 and over said they would cut back on dinner and shopping trips, compared to 43% of adults ages 18-34.

Meanwhile, the younger age group is much more likely to consider carpooling during their trips to save on costs — with 29% saying they were willing to do so compared to just 11% of those age 35 and over.

Exxon gas station price billboard
US gas prices hit a record high this week.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has further disrupted fuel shipments — with Russia already struggling to find buyers for its oil and gas due to sanctions even before the US implemented a full ban on imports. The import ban added further strain to the global energy market, which is struggling to produce enough supply to fuel economies as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes.

US average gas prices have surged 70 cents in the two weeks since the Russian invasion began — a staggering pace that has caused sticker shock at stations around the country. The worst price hikes have occurred in California, where gas has already spiked well above the $5 threshold.

Still, AAA’s survey found the high prices were unlikely to stop Americans from taking their usual summer vacations. More than half (52%) of respondents said they were still planning to take trips, and 42% said the gas prices would have no impact on their plans.

Gas prices smashed the previous record of $4.11 established in July 2008. President Biden has largely blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for causing the latest hikes, telling reporters earlier this week that he “can’t do much” to address the problem.

Energy costs were a key factor driving inflation to a four-decade high of 7.8% in February — and consumer prices are only expected to get worse in the weeks and months ahead.