08/08/2006 - In the nearly 100 years that Americans have been driving cars, the inflation-adjusted price of gasoline has drifted steadily downward, save for two sharp spikes up. One occurred a quarter century ago. The other is happening right now.
In both instances, the public reaction has been the same - roughly half of all adults say they've scaled back on their driving, while the other half say they haven't.
Among the slight majority (55%) in the latest Pew Research Center survey who say they've cut back, there's an inverse correlation with family income - that is, the less income a driver has, the more likely he or she is to have scaled back. Also, rural residents are more likely than those who live in cities or suburbs to have scaled back. Aside from that, there are few age, gender, regional or other demographic variances between those who've cut back and those who haven't.
Nor is there much difference based on the type of vehicles people drive. Even though there has been a sharp decline in recent months in the sales of gas-thirsty vehicles such as SUVs and pickup trucks, owners of these vehicles are no more, or less, likely than the rest of the public to say they've scaled back on driving.
There are, however, some differences based on how many miles people travel. Heavy travelers are less likely than light travelers to say they've cut back.
The findings are from a Pew survey among a nationally representative sample of 1,182 adults conducted from June 20 through July 16, 2006.
Read the full report As The Price Of Gas Goes Up, The Nation's Odometer Slows Down Pew Research Center Web site.