Americans Blame Congress for Gas Prices, Consumer Reports Survey Shows

July 7, 2008 - 7:24 PM

(CNSNews.com) - A Consumer Reports survey reveals that Americans are blaming Congress for high gas prices, which are compelling them to make shifts and sacrifices in their consuming habits.

The Auto Pulse Survey, conducted by Consumer Reports National Research Center, showed that 77 percent of consumers single out the government's failure to implement an effective energy policy as a root cause for high gas prices; 75 percent of consumers blame oil companies; and 70 percent blame foreign oil producers.

When asked about actions the federal government could take to reduce fuel costs, 81 percent want to allow more drilling in the United States and offshore and 90 percent support increasing alternative energy development.

Among the respondents, 84 percent want to negotiate lower prices with oil-exporting nations, and 83 percent want to encourage conservation through tax incentives or alternative transportation.

In 2007, Consumer Reports found the "tipping point," at which motorists said they would drastically reduce driving, to be $3.50 per gallon of gasoline. According to the Department of Transportation, Americans have driven 20 billion fewer miles this year compared to the same time period in 2007.

Compared with last year, more people walked or bicycled (31 percent) this year, carpooled (24 percent), worked from home (18 percent), used more public transportation (16 percent), and even moved closer to work (10 percent).

But the rising gas prices affect more than just the transportation decisions. Some troubling trends show 45 percent of respondents have been putting less money into savings accounts; 34 percent have cut back on essentials like food or healthcare; and 17 percent have charged more expenses on credit cards.

In addition, consumers are willing to make significantly more sacrifices when buying new cars. A full 54 percent of car owners would pay more for a vehicle with greater fuel-efficiency, and 80 percent are considering a diesel, flex-fuel or hybrid vehicle. That is up from 2007, when only 47 percent were interested in purchasing vehicles with alternative engines.

More than one-quarter of consumers have considered down-sizing to two-wheeled vehicles - 18 percent have considered motorcycles and 14 percent have contemplated scooters. Most of these respondents were men ages 18-34.

The Consumer Reports National Research Center interviewed by telephone a nationally representative probability sample of 884 people who drive a vehicle or whose household owns at least one vehicle.

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