Costly commutes

Published 11:42 am Monday, April 7, 2008

By By Lisa Tindell – news editor
Although Sharon Laster lives just across the county line north of Brewton, the 19-mile trip to her office at NDI on South Boulevard is beginning to cost as much or more than the much longer commutes of a few years ago.
With gas prices hitting an all-time high over the past several weeks, Laster doesn't see any relief from her costs of commuting anytime in the near future.
Laster isn't alone when it comes to the cost of filling the gas tank on the family vehicle.
Even a short 14-mile commute has become more costly for Patty Fraizer, who is assistant principal at W.S. Neal High School.
Fraizer said the cost of gas has gone up considerably for her and is putting a cramp in her family's leisure activities.
Combining all efforts into one has become a focus for out-of-town driving, Frazier said.
Even though gas prices inch up by only a few cents at a time, the steady increase has seen gas prices increase by 11 cents per gallon since Feb. 25 and by 34 percent since March 2006, according to AAA.
The continuing rise in gasoline prices has caused many drivers to reconsider their driving habits. Laster said she makes more conscious decisions when getting behind the wheel.
In a recent poll at www.brewtonstandard.com, readers responded to a question about whether their driving habits had changed due to the increase in gas prices. With 111 readers responding, 78.4 percent said that they have cut back on their driving, while 21.6 percent said they had not made a change in their driving habits in response to increasing gas prices. The poll is not scientific.
The Energy Information Administration's Web site has predicted the monthly average gasoline price to peak near $3.50 per gallon this spring. It is important to note, however, that even if the national average monthly gasoline price peaks near that level, there is a significant possibility that prices during some shorter time period, or in some region or sub-region, will cross the $4 per gallon threshold.
The national average for a regular gallon of gas Tuesday was $3.303, up from $3.178 a month ago and $2.706 a year ago. The average in Alabama is $3.227 per gallon of regular gas.
The average in the Brewton area is about $3.25 per gallon for regular unleaded gasoline.