Gas prices take higher toll on Hawai‘i drivers

More Hawaiians are cutting back on unnecessary driving and spending lessw money on other things as gas prices reach closer to the $5 mark.

The annual AAA Hawai‘i Spring Break Travel Poll released this week shows 66 percent of those surveyed said high gas prices have affected their household budgets, compared to 59 percent in last year’s poll.

The survey of 396 AAA Hawai‘i members showed 79 percent are cutting back on unnecessary driving, 50 percent are spending less at restaurants, 40 percent are spending less money on entertainment, and 47 percent are putting less money into their savings accounts.

The “critical price point” at which major changes will be made in how much people drive and how much gasoline they use was set at $5 for 27 percent of those polled, $4.50 for 17 percent and $3.50 for 19 percent.

“It’s interesting to note that the critical price point has gone up for most people as the gas prices have actually risen to new levels,” Diane Peterson, a regional manager for AAA Hawai‘i, said in a news release.

“Last year, 34 percent said that $4 a gallon would be a crucial price point for them and this year, it dropped to 19 percent,” she said.

Currently, the Hawai‘i state average for regular unleaded gas is $4.37 a gallon — although that average price is much higher on Kaua‘i.

On Wednesday, GasBuddy.com was reporting a range in average prices for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline of $4.55 to $4.69 in Lihu‘e, $4.65 to $4.67 in Kapa‘a and $4.95 in Princeville.

Nationwide, AAA reported that three states in addition to Hawai‘i — Illinois, California and Alaska — are now reporting average gasoline prices over $4 per gallon. Gasoline prices have increased by more than 50 cents per gallon this year.

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