Apr 14, 2011 11:48 PM by Maddie Garrett

The Breaking Point of Gas Prices

Just about everyone is feeling the pain at the pump right now, and the Energy Department released new numbers warning gas prices could increase 40% this summer, topping $5.00 a gallon.

The Energy Department said families will be spending significantly more on gas this year, up $825 per household from last year. That brings the total average spent on gasoline to $3,360 per household in 2011.

So where's the breaking point? For some drivers, they've already hit it and are making drastic changes just to pay for gas. It's not just weekend trips or summer vacations that are getting the ax, we found many people are actually changing their day-to-day lives all so they can afford to drive.

"I love my truck, I hate to get rid of it, I mean but, I got to," said Drew Dogay, a driver from Rayne.

Dogay sold his pickup truck Thursday afternoon because he couldn't afford to drive it anymore.

"It's just, I got to do something, it's costing me an arm and a leg to keep putting gas in here," said Dogay.

Hit by a drunk driver last year, Drew's now on disability and struggling to make ends meet on a fixed income. But he's not the only one.

"Probably more than half of Louisiana is doing what we're doing I'm sure. I mean, you got to survive somehow," he said.

We asked KATC Facebook fans what their tipping point is; that is, at what point do you alter your daily driving habits. People responded with explanations such as:

"Can't afford to drive to work."

"We're cutting everywhere. Gas prices is killing us! No vacation, no kid's birthday party, no extra anything."

"Traded by truck for a bug. We barely fit but 45mpg is better that 12mpg."

"Downsized my internet service and cable. Started clipping coupons. Basically cut back on everything."

"Cutting back on groceries."

UL Economics Professor Anthony Greco said what makes this spike in gas prices so difficult is the fact that as fuel costs rise, incomes are staying the same.

"You got to have first things first and your budget can only go so far," said Greco.

And down south, the cost to crank it up is felt even more. That's because communities are more spread out and the commute is farther.

"Here in the south we are more rural, we like to go hunting and fishing and have our trucks and our independence," explained Greco.

So Dogay had to say goodbye to his V-8, just like so many other drivers who are at the end of the road when it comes to gas prices.

"There's going to be a ceiling if it continues to go as high as it's been going up. People may have to say 'I've got to get rid of my car now, I've got to take the bus, ride with other people, be more dependant on other people,'" said Greco. "They won't like it. And they'll be just as happy to jump back in the car when it's feasible."

So will there be any relief when it comes to filling up? Economists say don't count on it any time soon, it could be many months before crude oil markets level off.



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