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AAA: For most Americans, $4 per gallon is the pain threshold

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI) – As gas prices across the country and here in Idaho continue to shatter old records set in 2008, AAA says for many Americans, $4 per gallon is the tipping point that will force them to change their driving habits.

According to AAA’s new research, half of U.S. adults feel gas priced at $3 or more per gallon is “too high,” consistent with previous studies. But 59% of Americans say they will adjust their lifestyle when prices hit the $4 mark, with the number climbing to 75% at the $5 mark.

Today, the average price for a gallon of regular in Idaho is $4.30, which is 68 cents more than a week ago and 78 cents more than a month ago. 

Here’s a look at Idaho gas prices as of Wednesday:

  • Boise - $4.37
  • Coeur d’Alene - $4.11
  • Franklin - $4.40
  • Idaho Falls - $4.18
  • Lewiston - $4.20
  • Pocatello - $4.29
  • Twin Falls - $4.42

Meanwhile, the national average currently sits at $4.32 per gallon, which is 59 cents more than a week ago and 84 cents more than a month ago. The rising cost of crude oil continues to put upward pressure on gas prices.

“Rising fuel prices can affect everything from mass transit and ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft to food deliveries and shipping costs,” AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde said. “Everyone is feeling the pinch, and it’s getting more challenging to shift funds to cover the expense.”

While many Americans will adjust their daily activities to offset the rising cost of fill-ups, they’re still likely to travel this summer. AAA’s survey found 52% plan to take a vacation, and of that group, 42% say they will not consider changing their travel plans regardless of the price of gas.

“If you’re going to travel, it would be wise to beef up your budget. Road trips may get much more expensive, especially over longer distances. Airfares may be impacted by the higher price of jet fuel, and hotels and restaurants may also have to charge more for their products and services,” Conde said. “Some families may try to conserve fuel and save a little money by selecting a major city or resort that can serve as a base camp, then focus on local activities.”

Of the U.S. adults who responded they would make a change to offset higher gas prices, 80% say they would drive less. 18- to 34-year-olds are almost three times as likely to consider carpooling as their older counterparts, while mature drivers are more likely to combine trips and errands and to reduce shopping and dining out.

The steep increase in fuel prices is even reaching to some local businesses in more ways than just their direct fuel costs.

"Unfortunately, I've had to increase prices," RC Pool & Spa worker Ron Pence said. "A lot of different aspects of chlorine in itself in my avenue is increased 42% in the last eight months. And then you factor in fuel and everything else. It's it's incredible. The economy itself and where things are at right now is it's painful."

Other local residents are already starting to make cuts. Many talked to me about cutting down on driving time and even getting rid of certain services like lawn care.

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Evan Thomason

Evan is the weekend meteorologist and reporter.

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