San Francisco — Analytics firm Quality Planning Corp. (QPC), San Francisco, the company that validates policyholder information for auto insurers, has released proprietary findings that show Americans are changing their driving habits as gas prices hit record levels this year. Based on telephone conversations with drivers around the country, the firm concludes that a majority will drive less in the coming year, with the biggest planned cutback occurring in "pleasure use," when a vehicle is not being used for commuting or work-related purposes.

Based on this predicted reduction in discretionary use of vehicles and assuming gas prices remain at current levels, QPC projects a mileage decrease of 4% to 5%, or 500 miles per year per vehicle, during the next 12 months. "With 250 passenger cars on the road, this equates to 125 billion fewer miles driven,” says Dr. Raj Bhat, president of Quality Planning. “At an average 20 miles per gallon, this will result in a reduction in gasoline consumption of 6 billion gallons, equivalent to 307 million barrels of crude oil.” A barrel of crude oil yields approximately 19.5 gallons of gasoline.

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