Archive for Thursday, September 8, 2005

Expensive gas prices gash wallets

But slick tips, practicality when driving can lessen sting at pump

September 8, 2005

Before the holiday weekend began, Jim Hanni, a representative from the Kansas AAA headquarters, heard the same questions again and again as they poured through the phone lines in his office.

"We have been getting quite a few calls at AAA whether folks should venture out with travel plans over the Labor Day holiday because of the high gas prices," Hanni said.

As the holiday weekend came and went, commuters had to look at the $3-a-gallon price to decide how and where they would spend their leisure time.

Now, with gas prices still hovering over the $3 mark, and the holiday time passed, residents and city officials alike are looking for ways to beat the burn at the pump.

"I think motorists should remain vigilant and attentive to what is happening with gas prices," Hanni said.

The reason for the recent spike in prices came, in part, after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, and crippled essential North American oil refineries. With the production centers demolished, the available supply of oil decreased while the demand held steady. So, prices rose.

"It's going to take a little bit of time for us to recover, of course, from the oil refineries in the Gulf being shut down," Hanni said.

For the city, one way to deal with the increase is to look at when the use of gasoline is necessary, City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said. The increase has gone beyond the 20 percent rate increase the City predicted in its budget.

Using gas prudently is one trick residents could also use to save money, but Hanni offered other tips.

One simple tip would be if the commuter has multiple cars, fuel the car that has the best gas mileage, Hanni said.

No matter which car the motorist uses, it should be well maintained for best performance, Hanni said.

That means the oil should be checked and at optimum levels, and the tires should be fully inflated, he said.

"You should avoid overloading the car by taking what you need," Hanni said.

As important as it is in what you drive, it's also important how you drive, he said.

"We suggest people drive gently to avoid gas use associated with sharp acceleration," Hanni said.

Then, a different fueling schedule might also help make a difference, he said.

"A good rule is to follow when your gas gauge reads to a quarter or half full, start thinking about refueling, and not waiting to the last minute," Hanni said. "That might be some of the best advice at this time."

Among those worst hit by the gushing gas prices are those who commute to and from work.

Cheryl White, manager of the Lawrence Workforce Center, has seen an influx of commuters reconsidering their job options.

"I think sometimes with high gas prices it makes them think they might want to look for places to work closer to home," White said.

The high gas prices also affect those looking for jobs. The higher prices should lead to greater prudence when searching for work, White said.

"I would say with the higher gas prices right now, maybe people are taking advantage of instead of going in person to companies, they're relying more on mail to send a resume," White said. "Or definitely the technology resources in terms of sending a resume via email or fax instead of driving around town.

"I think the businesses will specify how they want people to apply," White said. "Job seekers still need to comply with how that business wants them to apply."

Hanni has one more tip to keep motorists from getting tanked at the pump.

"When you are in the open road, use the cruise control as much as possible," Hanni said.

"It does save fuel."

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