The price of gasoline quadrupled over the last decade, but Americans responded by driving more and more in ever-larger gas guzzlers as if nothing had changed. But $4 gas combined with an economic black hole may have finally gotten the message across, reports the New York Times, as American gasoline consumption is set for its first annual decline in 17 years.
Consumer behavior is shifting in reaction to higher gas prices in other ways. Ridership on public transportation is climbing across the country, while sales of SUVs are plummeting and hybrids are up. An industry report says the current situation has parallels to the decline in consumption during the 1970s oil shocks, and that "if these trends hold, then 2007 could stand as the peak year for US gasoline demand."