Americans drivers do have some reasonable options in battle against higher gas prices

York Dispatch editorial board
  • Gas prices have soared well north of $4 per gallon.
  • Gas prices will likely go higher, especially if America stops buying Russian oil.
  • There are some options for drivers in an effort to reduce their gas consumption.
These are the gas prices at a Sheetz store in Sewickley, Pa., Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Gas prices are soaring.

Everyone who drives a vehicle knows that. Local prices are now well north of $4 per gallon.

It’s having a major impact on consumer wallets and business bottom lines, in York County and across the nation.

What's more, there’s every indication that it’s going to get worse before it gets better, especially if America and its western partners stop buying Russian oil in response to that nation’s brutal invasion of the Ukraine.

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Many indications point to that happening, and fairly soon. It’s a justifiable sanction, given Russia’s heinous actions, but it’s also a move that is sure to put more pressure on our gas prices.

So, what can we do to mitigate the gas price hikes?

Consider getting rid of the gas guzzler: Well, the first thing we can do is rethink our long American love affair with large, gas-guzzling vehicles.

The sedan, especially the full-sized sedan, has almost become extinct.

Instead, our roads and highways are littered with monster sport utility vehicles and heavy-duty five- or six-passenger trucks.

Most of the time, when you see those tanks of the highway, there’s just one person in the vehicle — the driver. And there’s nothing being carried that would necessitate a vehicle of such immense size.

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According to Sykes, 75% of truck owners in the U.S. use their vehicles for hauling only once in a year. Additionally, 70% of truck owners go off-roading once in a year or less.

So, for most SUV and truck owners, the need for such vehicles is dubious at best. For the most part, it's a vanity purchase.

Many will argue that high-sitting SUVs and trucks provide better sight lines and better protection if you are in an accident.

Of course, for those of us with low-sitting sedans, the monster vehicles impede our sight lines and put us more at danger if we’re in an accident, so it’s a double-edged sword.

If the folks who really don’t have a pressing need for SUVs or large trucks for their day-to-day lives would switch to smaller, more efficient cars, their gas mileage would improve and their gas bills obviously would be lower.

That would also help us, as a nation, reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Additionally, smaller cars generally produce fewer harmful emissions, which would also help us in our battle against climate change.

Smaller and lighter vehicles are also easier on our roads, reducing the amount of money we must spend to maintain those roads.

Consider walking or biking: The second thing we can do during this period of gas price hikes is considering walking or biking whenever possible.

The benefits of those options is again fairly obvious — it’s better for our health, it’s better for our environment and it’s better for our wallet.

Finally, for those who still commute to work, try to find a riding partner or better yet, partners, or consider public transportation if possible.

For decades, we’ve had an inexhaustible hunger for monster cars. During that time, relatively low gas prices, at least by world standards, have allowed us to wantonly satisfy that hunger, much to the detriment of our environment and our pocket books.

At the same, calls for more walking, biking, car-pooling and use of public transportation have been largely ignored.

Now, however, with gas prices possibly headed for $5 per gallon, maybe Americans will finally consider the high costs of continuing business as usual.