Most Americans Say Gas at $2.50 a Gallon Is Too Expensive

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The average American household has spent nearly $400 less on gasoline so far in 2015 than it did in the same amount of time in 2014. But 83% U.S. drivers still think that gasoline prices are too high at $2.50 a gallon, which is below the current national average price of $2.58 per gallon.

The data come from a new AAA survey released Thursday that follows up on a similar survey the organization fielded last year. The comparisons are interesting because the price of gasoline was $3.49 a gallon at the time of the 2014 survey and $2.39 a gallon when the 2015 survey was taken.

Instead of celebrating, though, Americans will not think that gasoline is cheap until the price reaches $1.50 a gallon. Even at $2.00 a gallon, only 43% of those surveyed thought gasoline was cheap.

When asked at what price gasoline costs too much, more than half of younger drivers 18 to 34 years old (53%) replied that $3.00 a gallon is too high. Among drivers older than 35, nearly three-quarters (73%) think $3.00 is too high. On the whole, 67% of respondents said that $3.00 a gallon was too high.

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Another interesting result of the survey is that just 13% of Americans are driving more as a result of the big drop in gasoline prices. Nearly 20% of younger drivers (aged 18 to 34) say they are driving more, while just 10% of older drivers say they are driving more. AAA concludes that these results indicate that most Americans are unlikely to change their driving habits due to lower gasoline prices.

Among all age groups, some 60% are more likely to take a road trip of 50 miles or more away from home if gasoline prices remain around recent levels. Some 68% of younger drivers are more likely to take a road trip, compared with 57% of older drivers.

AAA also noted that the cost of crude oil has risen by more than $15 per barrel since reaching a six-year low in the middle of March. The current national average gas price of $2.58 is the highest since mid-December 2014, and the per-gallon increase of 55 cents is the largest seasonal increase since 2012.

Gasoline prices usually reach an early peak in early May and then decline until late June when summer travel picks up. AAA said that despite the recent price increases, drivers should still pay the lowest summer gasoline prices in at least five years. If crude prices drop, that number could drop to the lowest price in 10 years.

AAA reports that the five states with the highest gasoline prices are California ($3.53), Hawaii ($3.13), Alaska ($3.07), Nevada ($3.04) and Oregon ($2.86). The five states with the lowest average prices are South Carolina ($2.31), Oklahoma ($2.34), Missouri ($2.34), Louisiana ($2.35) and Kansas ($2.36).

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