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Consumers Face Tough Choices as Gas Prices Rise

As the summer travel season begins this Memorial Day weekend, American motorists are shifting their consumption patterns as they adjust to higher prices at the gas pump. Experts examine how consumers are handling the higher fuel prices.

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  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    It’s not enough you’re paying around four dollars a gallon for gas, but then you’re asked how you feel about it by some guy with a camera.

  • DRIVER:

    This is getting really crazy how it’s rising to — it used to be a dollar. Now it’s four dollars.

  • DRIVER:

    It’s breaking me, for real.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Record high gas prices this Memorial Day weekend are pounding consumers at the pump. But how much are they impacting where, what and how much people drive?

  • The AAA auto group says Americans are not giving up their holiday travel plans just yet:

    31.5 million motorists are expected to hit the highway this weekend, just a 1 percent drop from last year.

  • DRIVER:

    There’s nothing I can do about it, so I just kind of grin and bear it, I guess.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    But the rising prices are driving some commuters to find short-term solutions. There is, in fact, some evidence that more are turning to public transportation.

    In a number of cities, like Washington, D.C., commuters are increasingly leaving their cars in the driveway.

  • TRAIN RIDER:

    So me and my wife have premium-driven cars that we just can’t afford to drive. You’ve got to take the train.

  • STATION EMPLOYEE:

    Our ridership has definitely increased. I can tell by the customers, citizens that come in and out of the station here. It has increased.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Some people are also now turning to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, even the very small Smart car, a fraction of the size of a typical SUV, with triple the fuel economy.

    Sales of trucks and SUVs, once a major profit center for automakers, have declined to their lowest levels in a decade. And yesterday, Ford Motor Company said it would scale back production of these vehicles.

  • DRIVER:

    This is an explorer, an SUV, which I’m going to trade it soon for a smaller car.

  • DRIVER:

    I’d just like to get a more fuel-efficient car.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    But not everyone is ready to downsize…

  • DRIVER:

    Driving a car like this, I’m not going to park it forever. I don’t drive as much, but…

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    … choosing instead to keep on rolling, despite the high price of filling up at the pump.

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