Why you should love $5 gas
Stop grousing about the numbers on the pump. All of this could be good for you and good for America.
By doubleace on Tue, Apr 19, 2011 7:58 AM
This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.
As you pump 13 gallons into your Honda CR-V -- American's best-selling SUV and a thrifty 28 on the highway and 21 in town -- it's near impossible to view the $50 you're spending with a positive attitude.
With the national average at $3.84, it's easy to label oil executives as pond scum, but try to remain open-minded. Think of the big picture: While that promised road trip to Disney World just went up in carbon monoxide, $5 gasoline may actually have an upside if it arrives this summer as some experts predict. Not for you and your family personally, maybe, but perhaps for the United States as a whole.
Some possible benefits (and we're serious about most of them): Post continues after video.
Fewer people will die on the road.
The less you drive, the more likely you will survive, if the events of 2008, the year of the most recent gas price surge, are correct. In 2007, 30,527 died in automobile (including truck) accidents in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2008, that number dropped 12%, to 26,791.
This mainly was attributed to a decrease in highway speed. Also contributing was a 2% drop in miles driven, from 3.03 trillion to 2.97 trillion, despite a 1.7% increase in the number of registered vehicles. On the negative side, with many turning to more economical modes of transportation, motorcycle deaths rose 2.6% in 2008 and bicycle deaths 1%.
Demand for high-mileage cars may grow.
The key word here is "may." Hybrid sales rose quickly in 2007 as gas prices climbed, then dropped noticeably in the second half of 2008 as gas prices plummeted from over $4 to $1.60. This time around, despite gas prices climbing steadily over the past year, hybrid cars shrunk from 2.9% of new vehicle sales in 2009 to 2.4% in 2010, according to Ward's Auto. Meanwhile, sales of trucks, SUVs, crossovers and minivans rose from 48% of the market to 51% from 2009 to 2010. In addition, the average fuel economy rating of new vehicles sold in 2010 was 22.2 mpg, down from 22.3 mpg in 2009.
Which proves, of course, that Americans love their big vehicles. It could turn out to be different this time around. For one thing, there will be far more gas-efficient options available, plus all-electrics like the Chevrolet Volt and the soon-to-be-launched Ford Focus Electric. And for another, if those $5 doomsayers are right, the biggest hit on the credit card is yet to come.
Shorter security lines.
Airlines fares are extremely fuel-price reactive. Soon, hardly anyone will be able to afford to fly willy-nilly around the country or globe. You will breeze through the maze of airport checkpoints.