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As gas goes up, driving goes down

Kevin Castle • May 30, 2008 at 12:00 AM

As gas prices continue their upswing, motorists are driving at record low rates.

The largest decrease of drivers on the road in recorded history was registered in March, when Americans drove an estimated 4.3 percent less — 11 billion fewer miles on average, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported this week.

Higher fuel prices also contributed last year to record use of public transportation, with 10.3 billion trips recorded, the highest level in 50 years, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

The latest AAA East Tennessee Fuel Gauge Report shows a 19 cent average increase at the pump in the Tri-Cities in the past seven days, while prices rose by an average of 35 cents in the month of May.

Prices at gas stations in Bristol and Kingsport increased by 20 cents in the last week, AAA said, while prices in Johnson City increased by 17 cents.

The skyrocketing prices come as AAA public affairs specialist Stephanie Milani says energy analysts are split on what the oil market will do next.

“No promises are being made at this point for lower prices at the pump, but some analysts believe that gasoline prices are a bubble and will soon burst, noting yesterday’s trading of oil below $130 per barrel. Other analysts believe that the worldwide demand for oil is still increasing and do not expect prices to drop in the short term,” Milani said.

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