AAA Texas recently conducted a Spring Break travel poll to identify how gas prices are affecting many Texans’ budgets, spending and spring break plans this year. As a result of current gas price increases, 61 percent of those surveyed said the recent high gasoline prices have affected their household budgets, compared to 51 percent in last spring’s poll. This week the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Texas is 11 cents more than the average last week, according to the AAA Texas Weekend Gas Watch. The current statewide average is $3.70.
The national average is $3.81, increasing a nickel more than the average last week. The statewide average price is 11 cents less than the national average. The most expensive gasoline average in the state is in Dallas and Ft. Worth at $3.78. Amarillo is reporting the least expensive average in the state at $3.58 for a gallon of regular unleaded. While 54 percent of those surveyed plan to take at least one leisure trip in March or April, that’s down from 62 percent last year who said they planned at least one spring trip.
Analysts say gasoline prices continue to rise as high crude prices, future supply concerns, and signs of economic recovery keep upward pressure on gasoline futures. As crude oil and wholesale gasoline prices continue to move higher, Texans, as well as motorists across the country, face rising gas prices at the pump.
Among AAA Texas members responding to the recent Spring Break travel poll who said gas prices were affecting their household budgets, the top actions being taken in response to gas price increases are:
• Cutting back on unnecessary driving (79 percent)
• Spending less money on dining out at restaurants (50 percent)
• Spending less money on entertainment (42 percent)
• Using discounts and specials for entertainment and travel (41 percent)
• Putting less money into savings (40 percent)
• Not taking a spring break trip (31 percent)
• Using a member discount program (29 percent)
The survey also asked all those polled, “At approximately what price per gallon of gas do you think you will start making major changes in how much you drive or how much gasoline you use?” Twenty-nine percent said $4 a gallon was the critical price point, 22 percent said $4.50 or $5 a gallon, and 17 percent said $3.50 a gallon, while 7 percent said they didn’t know.
“It’s interesting to note that the critical price point has gone up for most people as the gas prices have risen to new levels,” said AAA Texas/New Mexico Public Affairs Representative Sarah Schimmer. “Last year, 47 percent said that either $3 or $3.50 a gallon would be a crucial price point for them and this year, it was 28 percent. The higher price points of $4, $4.50 and $5 a gallon were cited by 34 percent of those surveyed last year as crucial to changing their driving. This year, 51 percent said one of those prices would be their turning point.”
The 2012 AAA Texas Spring Break poll was conducted from Feb. 13 to Feb. 23 and surveyed 374 AAA Texas members. It has a margin of error of +/-5 percent.