Survey: High gas prices will hurt summer car travel

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A gas price survey conducted for an advocacy group that wants more fuel-efficient vehicles in the U.S. has concluded that Americans will begin to cut back on travel at if gas prices hit $3.50 a gallon this summer.

The Civil Society Institute of Massachusetts hired Opinion Research Corp. to conduct a poll of more than 1,000 drivers.

ORC concluded that personal spending, including summer and year-end holiday travel, will suffer at expected price increases, according to the poll.

But AAA spokesman Mike Pina said that while the American Automobile Association saw similar predictions in its own surveys last year, when summer gas prices topped out around $3 a gallon, high prices didnt have a significant impact on summer travel.

We are predicting a 1.5% increase in travel this summer, even with higher gas prices, said Pina. Though gas prices are rising, the automobile is still the least expensive way to travel.

Graham Hueber, a senior research associate with ORC, said that an overwhelming majority of those surveyed said they were seeing price gouging at the pump.

Eighty-eight percent of women and 77% of men said they believe that there is price gouging, he said.

He also said that more than 25% of those surveyed believed gas prices might go to $4 a gallon before the summer is over.

Americans want more fuel-efficient vehicles, and want them long before Congress plans to encourage such production 10 years from now with new federal mileage standards, said Pam Solo, president and founder of the Civil Society Institute of Massachusetts.

We hope that all the Washington experts who want to wait until 2017 or 2018 to increase federal mileage standards see the results of this survey, said Solo.

We can and should take bold action now to reduce our addiction to Middle Eastern oil and to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

To contact reporter Dan Luzadder, send e-mail to [email protected].

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