As gas prices continue to soar above $3 per gallon, many students are struggling to balance the limits of life as a pedestrian with the need to drive.
Lauren Johnson, senior international studies major from Newport Beach, Calif., drives a small, efficient Volkswagen Beetle and said she does not feel the effects of soaring prices as much as fellow ACU student Makenzie Brown, freshman business marketing major from Lubbock, who drives a Chevrolet Tahoe. Johnson reports an average of 30 mpg and stated that she only fills up every other week, on average.
“I have a real small car,” Johnson said. “I don’t feel the effects of higher gas prices much unless I go out of town.”
Brown, however, reports only 20 mpg, on average, and a recent fill-up cost of about $60. Although she definitely prefers to keep driving, she said she works to try to make fewer trips around town.
Brown and Johnson both anticipate a continued increase in the price of gas.
Dr. John Hill, associate professor of economics at Hardin-Simmons University, said turmoil in the Middle East has a direct economic effect on gas prices.
“Part of the high prices is all the unrest in the Middle East. With the turmoil in Libya, the prices have gone up just with the cost of getting the crude oil out of the country,” Hill said. “And the other leaders over there have noticed it as well. It’s not only actual price but speculative price on what else they might expect to happen. People might see a chance to overthrow unstable regimes, and the leaders over there have to take that into consideration.”
Hill said he is not sure how high the prices will go.
“I have no idea on how high the prices will rise, but markets have an uncanny way of dampening themselves out,” Hill said. “Once prices are over $100 a barrel, people start paying attention, and markets respond. People will stop buying if it gets high enough.”
Adam Schwalm, junior biology major from Columbus, Ohio, said he read that Libya produces up to 2 percent of the world’s sweet oil, which is oil that requires less refining than other varieties of crude oil. While events in Libya alone may not directly cause gas prices to rise in the U.S., events in both Libya and in surrounding countries are having an impact, Schwalm said.
Michael Powell, junior financial management major from Round Rock, has a positive outlook on the situation. Powell said he believes prices have peaked for now and will decrease during the next few weeks. And although prices may affect some students’ spring break plans, Powell said they will not change his spring break campaign to Seattle.
“We are flying, so I don’t anticipate any changes,” he said.