Prices at the pump leaves motorists asking questions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Motorists, your worst fears have been realized.

What had been talked about for the end of the summer has now become an instant reality.

Gas prices have reached the $2 a gallon mark.

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This had been a hot topic of discussion as people prepared for the worst. However, the time for preparation has been cut short, as they now have to deal with the problem immediately.

Now the questions are how did we get to this point and what will be done to fix it?

The &uot;how&uot; question has many angles. Not all of then stems from the Middle East.

One reason for the rise in gas prices has been that crude oil prices have remained higher than expected. This is in part because it has taken longer to get Iraq back on line than expected.

In addition 300,00 to 400,00 barrels of Nigerian oil production have been lost because of political turmoil there.

Strikes in Venezuelan oil companies have also caused a fall in oil production.

In many places tighter supplies have also coincided with low inventories causing a spike in prices.

Another cause for the rising prices is that Americans are driving more. This is expected to change with the rising prices, but currently Americans are not shying away from the highway.

No matter the cause, the results are all the same…angry motorists who are more than happy to voice their displeasure.

Bill Sruill, who was taking his family all the way to Gulf Shores from Wisconsin said that the prices were unreasonable but that all the consumer could do was deal with them.

&uot;Of course they are entirely too high,&uot; said Sruill while filling up at Bates Texaco. &uot;But what are you going to do? All you can do is deal with them and hope that they do down.&uot;

Cathy Butler, another motorist from Arab who was bound for the Gulf Coast also felt helpless against rising gas prices while filling up at Greenville Exxon.

&uot;They are a little bit high to be traveling,&uot; said Butler. &uot;But there is nothing you can do about it.&uot;

Other motorists were not as willing to accept the rising prices.

Bill Miller, who was also at the Exxon, traveling from Louisiana, felt that something needed to be done.

&uot;There is just no need for the high prices,&uot; said Miller. &uot;The prices don’t have to be as high as they are. There is plenty of oil in the reserves. It’s just plain ridiculous.&uot;

As drivers become more and more irritated often it is the little man that must take the heat.

Drivers often voice their opinions to cashiers or station mangers that have no control over rising prices.

Wade Head, who manages the Bates Texaco on Fort Dale Road has seen this many times.

Head said there is very little that these people can do to curb high gas prices.

&uot;This goes way beyond us,&uot; said Head. &uot;There is really nothing we can do about it. If they want to raise the prices they are going to get raised.&uot;

As for the solutions, there is no foolproof plan, only suggestions.

How we drive, what we drive and what kind of shape our vehicles are in can make a huge difference.

Car-pooling has been a suggestion to help curb the fuel problem.

It has been suggested that rather than going downtown for an item to wait until others are going.

Also, drivers should make sure that their vehicle gets the most miles per gallon. Many times sport utility vehicles and other larger cars are not equipped to get the maximum amount of miles that they could. By checking with your dealer before the purchase of such a vehicle a consumer can be sure to get the most out of their car.

Drivers should also make sure that their car is in good condition. Several minor adjustments can be made to make sure that a car gets the most mileage it is capable of getting. Underinflated tires or a dirty air filter are just two of the small problems that can reduce gas mileage.

The high gas prices look as if they are here to stay. Rather than complaining it is important that motorists try to be part of the solution.