AAA: Drivers Change Habits to Counter High Gas Prices

New survey finds Americans are driving less as gas prices remain high

PORTLAND, Ore., – A new survey from AAA shows that drivers are making significant changes to cope with high pump prices. Almost two-thirds (64%) of U.S. adults have changed their driving habits or lifestyle since March, with 23% making “major changes.” Drivers’ top three changes to offset high gas prices are driving less, combining errands, and reducing shopping or dining out. Other changes include delaying major purchases, postponing vacations and saving less money.

Here’s the full report from the AAA consumer gas prices survey.

AAA Consumer Gas Price Survey 7-2022

While many Americans are adapting their daily habits to make up for higher gas prices, they also affect their decisions to make major purchases, travel and save money. More than a quarter of Americans (30%) say they have delayed making major purchases, 29% say they’ve postponed taking a vacation this year, and 24% say they’ve put aside less money for savings.

Almost two two-thirds (64%) of U.S. adults have changed their driving habits or lifestyle in order to offset increases in gas prices since they started to spike this spring. Almost one quarter (23%) made major changes, while 41% made slight changes.

AAA Consumer Gas Price Survey 7-2022

More Americans say they’re changing their driving habits now compared to March 2022 when AAA released its previous gas price survey. . At that time, over half (59%) said they would change their driving habits or lifestyle if the cost of gas rose to $4 per gallon. If gas were to reach $5.00, which the national average did in June and the Oregon average did in May, three-quarters said they would need to adjust their lifestyle to offset the spike at the pump. At that time, among Americans who said they would make changes in response to higher gas prices, a majority (80%) said they would opt to drive less. The new AAA survey reaffirms these driving habit changes.

With gas prices remaining volatile for the foreseeable future, consumers will likely be paying higher prices than in previous years.

AAA has tips to help you save at the pumps:

  • Use the AAA mobile app to find the least expensive gas in your area (and closest places to charge your EV).
  • Use discounts and loyalty programs to save when you purchase fuel. Visit AAA.com/shell to sign up for the Shell Fuel Rewards Program and save 5 to 30 cents a gallon. Grocery stores including Fred Meyer and Safeway offer gas rewards programs.
  • Consider using a credit card that offers a rebate on gasoline purchases.
  • Only use premium gas in vehicles that require it. Paying for premium gas for a car that takes regular is a waste of money and is of no benefit to the vehicle.
  • Avoid prolonged idling. If your car will be stopped for more than 60 seconds, shut off the engine to save fuel. Many newer cars have automatic engine stop-start systems that do this.
  • Keep tires properly inflated. Underinflation reduces fuel economy, but more importantly, tires low on air degrade handling and braking, wear more rapidly and can overheat and blow out.
  • Slow down and drive the speed limit. On the highway, aerodynamic drag causes fuel economy to drop off significantly as speeds increase above 50 mph. Reducing highway speeds by 5 to 10 mph can improve fuel economy by as much as 14%.
  • Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and hard acceleration. These actions greatly increase fuel consumption.
  • Minimize your use of air conditioning. Even at highway speeds, open windows have less effect on fuel economy than the engine power required to operate the air conditioning compressor.
  • Get rid of all the extra stuff in your vehicle, including roof racks and bicycle racks. It takes more fuel to accelerate a heavier car.
  • Maintain your car according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Regular service will ensure optimum fuel economy, performance and longevity.
  • Map your route before you go to minimize unnecessary turnarounds and backtracking. Avoid peak traffic times and, if possible, go to “one-stop shops” where you can do multiple tasks (banking, shopping, etc.).
  • If traveling this summer, know that flights, car rentals, accommodations, tours, cruises, and other activities are in high demand, and availability may be limited. Finding last-minute deals may be challenging, so plan ahead and look for discounts and rewards, usually available through a membership like AAA. This is also another time when travel agents are a great resource since they may know of a deal that may not be readily available to the public.

Find more fuel saving tips here.

Drivers can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Survey methodology

The survey was conducted June 23 – 27, 2022 using a probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population overall. The panel provides sample coverage of approximately 97% of the U.S. household population. Most surveys were completed online; consumer without Internet access were surveyed over the phone.

A total of 1,002 interviews were completed among U.S. adults, 18 years of age or older. The margin of error for the study overall is 4% at the 95% confidence level. Smaller subgroups have larger error margins.

Find current fuel prices at GasPrices.AAA.com.

AAA news releases, high resolution images, broadcast-quality video, fact sheets and podcasts are available on the AAA NewsRoom at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

Find local news releases at https://oregon.aaa.com/community/media/media-contacts.html

Fuel prices are updated daily at AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge at AAA Gas Prices. For more info go www.AAA.com.  AAA Oregon/Idaho provides more than 850,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services, and is an affiliate of AAA National, serving more than 62 million motorists in North America.