What Are We Gonna Do, Walk?
Rising Gas Prices Don’t Keep Americans Out of Their Cars
Enviros hoping that rising gas prices would change Americans’ driving behavior have been bitterly disappointed. Although gas prices have reached a national average of $1.80 per gallon, American drivers are buying more gas than ever, and big, gas-guzzling SUVs are flying off showroom floors like never before. Explanations for this phenomenon vary. For one thing, gas prices are not nearly as high, in relative* terms, as they were during the energy crisis of the late 1970s, when demand for fuel-efficient cars and public transportation spiked. For another, the U.S. economy as a whole continues to grow. Experts differ on what price level would cause enough pain to change behavior. Some speculate that the $2 per gallon mark would do it, but gas has exceeded that level in California without denting driving habits. Others say $3 per gallon — which could be reached as soon as Memorial Day — might be the magic number. Still others speculate that even when the world is reduced to a post-apocalyptic hellscape, Americans traveling in lawless gangs will still prize their cars above all else. Wasn’t there a movie about that?