Drivers saying no to high gas prices?

Contrary to expectations that driving would increase as more people go back to work, gas consumption is diving.

By doubleace Apr 11, 2011 12:41PM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.


Are Americans finally fighting back? The Associated Press reports that gasoline sales have fallen for five straight weeks; before that, sales had increased for two straight months.


Those numbers, complied by MasterCard SpendingPulse, which tracks spending at 140,000 service stations nationwide, are a bit surprising in view of rising employment. "More people are going to work," said John Gamel, director of gasoline research for MasterCard. "That means more people are driving and they should be buying more gas." Post continues after video.

About 70% of the nation's major gas station chains say sales have fallen, according to the Oil Price Information Service. More than half reported a drop of 3% or more -- the biggest decline since late summer of 2008, when gas soared past $4 a gallon.

Then, battered U.S. drivers responded by cutting back to the tune of 15 billion miles a month. Some bought fuel-efficient vehicles and others turned to mass transit, but mostly, it seemed, people just drove less.


Responding to the laws of supply and demand, prices plummeted almost immediately. Oil companies, which were reporting record profits, saw their swag drop considerably. 


Will that happen again? It hasn't yet. According to AAA's daily survey, the average cost of gas has climbed 22 cents in the past month, reaching $3.77, with Alaska, Hawaii and California now over $4.13 and Connecticut, Illinois and New York pushing out the $4 mark. Only Wyoming is under $3.50.


Experts, citing unrest in Africa and the Middle East, increasing global demand for crude oil, and, of course, those dreaded oil speculators, expect gasoline prices to continue to rise to well above $4.


These are smart folks, and they may be right. On the other hand, Americans have voted with their wheels before. And since our economy and family finances are more fragile than they were just before the real estate and stock market meltdowns in the fall of 2008, it would not be surprising if the buyer backlash is even more pronounced.


Why, people might even stop driving 80 mph on the freeways.


More from MSN Money: 

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

52Comments
Apr 13, 2011 10:39AM
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Get the speculators out of the commodities market. Goldman-Sachs has put money out there to bet that oil only goes up. This is the ONLY reason gas prices are up, demand is down, supply is up. 
Apr 13, 2011 11:41AM
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That Rolling Stone article pretty much breaks it down, not that we didn't already know what has been going on but it's nice to see someone have the sack to put it in ink in a national publication. The Govt/Wall St. relationship is a thinly veiled Organized Crime network. Plain and simple. Organized Criminals working under the protection of other criminals who have been installed as the gatekeepers of truth and justice. The sooner this country implodes the better. What we need is a deck of cards with the names and faces of the Great American Wall St and Govt criminals much like we had during the Iraq war so we the people know who to lych when all hell breaks loose!
Apr 13, 2011 10:53AM
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I live in a rural area. Towns are far apart. I walk whenever I can and I have found I only drive two to three times a week. I watch my $10.00 go two weeks. Am I happy? Oh, ya! Do I care that the demand for oil is down? Not at all. Let this be a lesson to the greedy people: American people are tired of the status quo.

 

We are fighting back.

Apr 13, 2011 11:05AM
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I own a motorcycle.  I used to ride it only for pleasure on the weekends.  Now it is my full-time commuter.  I am saving about $100 / month in gas since the motorcycle gets about 60 mpg compared to the truck's 17 mpg.  Plus, it's alot more fun!  The F-150 hasn't budged in 2 weeks.

Apr 13, 2011 6:20AM
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I don't know where this author got their facts but here in AZ gas has continued to rise & rise it has not decreased at all in the past several months.  HOWEVER, here in Tucson, AZ it is only $3.41 a gallon & personally I don't drive anywhere I don't have to.

I also consolidate my grocery shopping trips. Before I hit 3 stores which weren't very far apart now I only go to one.  How do you save $$ if you're spending it on gas to get there?!

 

Please people show this gas company execs the power of the people!  Use your vehicle less & slow down!

Apr 13, 2011 11:09AM
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These people who are supposedly going back to work have undoubtedly taken any job they could get their hands on and is probably paying less than they can live on and is farther away from home than they had anticipated. Gas prices are a scam I hope demand keeps falling in the face of rising prices. Recession here we come!!!
Apr 13, 2011 11:26AM
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Here is why Gas is so expensive. Check the link and find Gas at $4. 

It's amazing how much they corrupt our government. 

rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-great-american-bubble-machine-20100405

The talking heads are owned by them The politicians are in their pockets. Nothing will change unless WE as voters force it. 
Apr 13, 2011 6:29AM
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keep it up usa people, supply and demand, sticking it up our butts again.  damn speculators, i hope they lose their shirts. wyoming is the cheapest i believe it is because they don't have to put the crap in their fuel. at least i know their is one state in the central part of the usa. i myself put the same amout of money in my tank and it last's longer as i pick up things i know i'll be out of within a week, so i just sit home and do things that also has to be done. the government doesn't want couch potatoes but with the high price of fuel more and more people will get fat and medical expense's will go up. they will not win, one way or another the government does not know the american people, oh ya, the rich they know.. 
Apr 13, 2011 8:03AM
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obama probably thought with the high prices of fuel people wold go buy electric cars, one thing he didnt 'think of. we can't afford new electric cars. the economy sucks and he knows it.
Apr 13, 2011 10:06AM
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According to studies backed by the department of energy, the average car will be at its advertised mpg at 55 mph. But as speed increases:

- 3% less efficient at 60 mph
- 8% less efficient at 65 mph
- 17% less efficient at 70 mph
- 23% less efficient at 75 mph
- 28% less efficient at 80 mph

This effect happens for two reasons:

1) Increasing air resistance. According to CNN, "Pushing air around actually takes up about 40% of a car's energy at highway speeds. Traveling faster makes the job even harder...The increase is actually exponential, meaning wind resistance rises much more steeply between 70 and 80 mph than it does between 50 and 60. "

2) Engines are designed for specific speed, temperature, and rpm ranges. Driving out of these ranges goes against the fundamental design of the engine.

 

mpgforspeed.com

Apr 13, 2011 11:33AM
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The fat lady is starting to tune up.

 

Libya has nothing to do with the price of gas. The teeny amount that we get from them isn't worth the time to discus it. Speculation is what is driving this train. The actual price of a barrel of sweet crude isn't that high. People speculating on the future of oil. Well, the future is here and we are tired.

 

Driving faster only gets you there poorer. I have had many vehicles and they all did better at 55mph with the cruise control on. I can go 75mph with the cruise control on. I pass more than I get passed by, but when I get there that little needle on the gas gauge is closer to empty than it would have been if I had set the cruise control at 55mph and homesteaded in the slow lane.

This is a sad commentary on life because I really enjoy flyin' down the freeway passin' everyone.

Apr 13, 2011 10:57AM
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Uniformed? The ethanol content decreases fuel economy drasticlly. If you didn't notice, compare by using different gas stations and you will notice a 5 to 15 miles per gallon difference. Be proactive and find out things yourself. 
Apr 13, 2011 5:53AM
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Well....I'm out here where the price is in the $3.50's, Wyoming, and we have cut back our work travel. I was making a 150 mile round trip once a month.  Now it is every 2 to 3 months.  We make more phone contacts with customers now than we did. My wife has a 30 mpg  Ford Escape and I have a Ranger pickup(mid 20's for mpg).  Of course, everything here is a lot farther away.  The nearest mall is 120 miles, lol, so we don't go there a lot.
Apr 13, 2011 8:32AM
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I hope everyone know that the comment to drive fast is wrong. You will save a lot by just slowing down. the  statement that the loss of gas mileage between going 60 or 80 being minimal is of course very wrong. It is exactly in the range that mileage drops off considerably. I can get as much as 37 mpg by driving exactly the speed limit instead of going faster, and the extra time it takes is quite minimal. In fact, I usually eventually catch up with the speeders when traffic builds. One reason  a lot of trucks now don't go over 65 is that they learned that they actually saved money by slowing down, and I learned the same thing. Slow down, save money, be safer..
Apr 13, 2011 12:40PM
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Let the gas prices rise as high as they want.  I just bought a 21 speed bicycle to pedal my booty 14 miles to work.  Just think off all the miles i will be saving by not buying my brand new Ford Ranger>  Thank you oil companies for keeping the trade in value of my truck high
Apr 13, 2011 9:14AM
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To the wizard (1234GBB).  You dont need to be a "rocket surgeon"  to calculate gas mileage but it obviously takes some knowledge or shall we call it common sense to realize you dont actually burn less gas when you go faster.  Most rocket surgeons from experience will verify 10-20% better fuel economy at 60 rather than 80.

 

For the non rocket surgeons out there when you push the gas peddle in farther the rate of fuel consumption increases.

Apr 13, 2011 12:59PM
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I just ride my bike in the warm months and the bus when it's cold.  I am not going to pay higher gas prices...I don't make enough!
Apr 13, 2011 12:11PM
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Those numbers, complied by MasterCard SpendingPulse,… are a bit surprising in view of rising employment…Experts, citing unrest in Africa and the Middle East, increasing global demand for crude oil, and, of course, those dreaded oil speculators, expect gasoline prices to continue to rise to well above $4.

 

Funny how the experts know all about what’s going on half way around the world, but, can’t predict what American consumers are going to do; the biggest factor in oil demand.

 

Apr 13, 2011 5:38AM
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When the local parks said they wouldn't be having a "house league" this year, but would be traveling to nearby cities, we took our boys out of the mix, they can play ball next year or through 4H, close and nearby.
Apr 13, 2011 3:12PM
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This whole gas price thing is a sham. I went into a station one day that had just went to the highest price in the area. The gas pumps had maybe one or two customers. This is a place that you used to have to wait in line. Next day price was marked down from $3.65 to $3.59, people were back at the pumps. Now is what does not make any sense at all, The very next day they again raised the price to $3.64. People again deserted the place. All you really need is one smart, and brave, dealer to lower their prices to a still profitable margin but beat everyone else. People will flock to that place. It may not work in all areas since Americans have become sheep. We have lost our will to fight what is not right. We need to stand up and show Big Oil, Wall Street, and our own government that we are tired of being gouged. We need to pick the worse gougers and boycott them for a week or two. Probably never happen though. BAAAA BAAAABlack Sheep
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