(LOS ANGELES – March 25, 2011) – Average gas prices topped $4 a gallon today in the Los Angeles/Long Beach and Ventura areas, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Earlier this month, motorists began paying $4 on average in Bakersfield, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Lompoc, San Luis Obispo, Atascadero and Paso Robles.
To help drivers reduce the amount they pay at the pump, the Auto Club offers the following tips:
- Start tracking your daily mileage and create a plan to reduce it. Can you carpool to work, or when meeting friends at social events? Can you arrange carpools for school drop-offs and sports practices or other kids’ activities? Can you telecommute one or two days a week? Can you walk instead of drive to complete an errand? Is public transit an option? A little extra planning can help cut your normal commute miles by 50 percent or more.
- Become a more conscious and conscientious driver. Illegal actions like texting, looking at or otherwise handling a cell phone or electronic device while driving, besides being unsafe, actually can waste gas. When you drive distraction-free and pay close attention, you will be better able to anticipate traffic conditions and slow down or accelerate gradually instead of slamming on your brakes or gas pedal, which wastes fuel and can also be dangerous and hard on your car. You will also create a better flow of traffic around you so that everyone can travel at more steady speeds that optimize fuel economy.
- Shop around for gas online and plan your gas purchases accordingly. AAA’s online Triptik or free AAA Triptik app for the iPhone or 3G iPad allows you to map recent gas prices in any local area. Being aware of the least expensive gas stations along your route can help you save $2 to $5 per fill-up.
- Plan your trips. Make sure you’re using the shortest route and if possible, find a single shopping center where you can accomplish several errands at once. Call ahead or inquire online if you are looking for a particular item instead of driving from location to location.
- Use online services when possible. Shopping online can save gas and time.
- Pay attention to when you drive. If you can choose a time of day to be on the road, avoid rush hour because stop-and-go traffic wastes more gasoline.
- Try to use the most fuel-efficient car in your household as often as possible.
- Get some benefit from high gas prices. If you’re going to pay a lot for gasoline, you can at least get something in return. A points-earning credit card will rack up rewards points on pump purchases that much faster when gas prices are high. Some cards, like the new AAA Member Rewards Visa from Bank of America, will even give you double points for gas purchases.
- Avoid speeding. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that drivers who travel more than 60 miles per hour are reducing their fuel economy anywhere from seven to 23 percent.
- Check your tires every other fill-up. Under-inflated tires will reduce your fuel economy by 2 percent per pound of pressure below the recommended level, and will also shorten the life of the tire.
- Get the junk out of the trunk. Sports equipment, work files and other heavy items in your trunk aren’t always necessary to carry around and will reduce your fuel economy by about 2 percent per extra 100 pounds.
- Look carefully at gas price signs. Sometimes gas stations advertise a “cash only” price prominently on their large signs, or a price that is only valid when purchasing a car wash. Make sure the price at the pump is actually the advertised price, and complain to the station manager if the advertised price does not also advertise the conditions for obtaining that price.
A recent Auto Club survey showed that high gas prices have already impacted the household budgets of 64 percent of Southland residents. Eighty-one percent of those surveyed said they have already cut back on unnecessary driving, while half say they are spending less on eating out at restaurants and 43 percent say they are spending less on entertainment as a result of high gas prices.
When asked what gasoline price point would or had already caused them to drastically reduce their driving, 19 percent of those surveyed said $3.50 a gallon was the critical price point for them, while 33 percent said $4, nine percent said $4.50 and 11 percent said $5. Nine percent stated they didn’t know what price would cause them to cut back severely on driving.