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AAA says gas prices -- now averaging $4.32 -- will bring changes to driving habits, lifestyles

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AAA says gas prices -- now averaging $4.32 -- will bring changes to driving habits, lifestyles
Gas sells for well over $5 per gallon at a station in Manhattan in New York City on Monday. AAA said Thursday that the national average is $4.32. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

March 10 (UPI) -- A large number of American drivers say that gas prices rising above an average of $4 will force them to make changes to their habits and lifestyles, such as driving less and cutting out entertainment and shopping.

AAA said Thursday that, according to a recent survey, more than half (59%) of U.S. drivers said they would make changes if the average cost of gas rose above $4 per gallon -- and about three-quarters said they would do so if it rose to over $5.

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AAA said earlier this week that the national average in the United States was $4.17 per gallon -- the highest mark on record. On Thursday, AAA put the national average even higher -- about $4.32 per gallon.

Several factors are behind the rise in prices, including inflation related to post-COVID-19 economic recovery and the Russian war in Ukraine.

The impact of the higher gas prices vary among U.S. drivers by age. AAA said 18- to 34-year-olds are almost three times as likely to consider carpooling than those over 35. Drivers over 35 are more likely to combine trips and errands and cut down shopping and dining out with the higher prices.

California has the most expensive gas in the United States, with an average of almost $5.70 per gallon. This station in San Francisco was selling regular gas for $6.31 per gallon on Sunday. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
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AAA said that while many are recoiling due to the more expensive gas, it doesn't expect the higher prices to have a significant impact on summer travel in the coming months. It said a recent survey showed that 52% of Americans have plans to take a vacation this summer -- of which 42% said they wouldn't change travel plans regardless of the price of gas.

"Since the New Year, the national average has continued a steady climb due to strained supply and increased demand but Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February caused oil prices to spike further," AAA said in a statement. "And in the 14 days since the conflict began, the national average has risen $0.70.

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"These are numbers not seen at the pump since the financial crisis in 2008."

The most expensive gas is found in the West. California has the nation's most expensive gas, by far, at almost $5.70 per gallon -- followed by Nevada ($4.87), Hawaii ($4.81), Oregon ($4.72) and Washington ($4.70).

The least expensive gas in the United States is found in the Midwest. Kansas has the least expensive gas at $3.82 per gallon, followed by Missouri ($3.85), Oklahoma ($3.85), South Dakota ($3.89) and Arkansas ($3.90).

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