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Motorists curtailing miles driven as gas prices remain high

Dottie Mae

People in Michigan and around the country are driving less in response to stubbornly high gasoline prices. 

Fred Rozell is with the Oil Price Information Service.  The group tracks oil prices from the refinery to the gas station.

He says demand for gasoline dropped two and a half percent in the third quarter of last year, and another three and a half percent in the fourth quarter.

"Which is a pretty big decrease in demand, so it appears people are cutting back on driving and starting to conserve more because of the higher costs."

Rozell predicts this year, the average price of gasoline will hit a high of about four dollars and fifteen cents a gallon.  That’s likely to happen in the spring, when gas prices historically reach their highest point.

Rozell says four dollars a gallon is still "the magic number," which triggers a very large change in people's behavior.

That could include even further restrictions on miles driven, along with switching to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Almost every car company makes such cars -- now.   

That wasn’t the case when gas prices spiked in summer 2008.  Companies like GM and Chrysler lost business because they didn’t have competitive, fuel-efficient small cars to offer.   

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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