What’s driving the shift in Americans’ habits behind the wheel?

GasBuddy head of petroleum analysis Patrick De Haan argued Thursday that high gas prices are causing Americans to change their driving habits.

He also noted that he is “worried” the downtrend in gas prices will not continue.

The energy expert made the comments on “Varney & Co.” as the national average for a gallon of gas slipped on Thursday to $4.27 from 4.30 the day before, according to AAA.

Prices have been dropping since hitting a high of $5.01 on June 14, nearly two months ago.

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De Haan argued that because of those $5 gas prices, “we have seen a slight drop, 5 to 10%, of what we’ll call ‘demand destruction.'”

He also pointed out that government data he analyzed on Wednesday showed “demand numbers popping up a little bit.”

“So Americans seem to be responding just a little bit to the fall in prices,” he explained.

Fifteen states were averaging less than $4 for a gallon of gas on Thursday, according to AAA.

GasBuddy head of petroleum analysis Patrick De Haan argues that soaring inflation is impacting the driving habits of Americans. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Last week, the national average price of a gallon of gasoline was $4.44 and one month ago, gas was $4.88, according to AAA, which also noted that the price one year ago was $3.16.

De Haan tweeted on Thursday that according to GasBuddy data, gasoline demand in the US is up 1.04% from last week, when comparing Sunday through Wednesday numbers, which is “the highest of any Sun-Wed period so far this year” and even exceeded the week ahead of July 4.

De Haan told host Stuart Varney that he is “worried” that the downtrend in prices won’t continue as the price of oil has been slightly increasing recently.

However, oil prices were mixed Thursday afternoon with Brent Crude futures for September settlement rising .3%, to $106.91 a barrel.

US West Texas Intermediate WTI crude futures for September delivery, however, dropped .6%, to $96.75 a barrel on Thursday afternoon.

ticker security last change Change %
USO UNITED STATES OIL FUND LP 77.16 -0.72 -0.92%
BNO UNITED STS BRENT OIL FD LP UNIT 31.96 -0.09 -0.28%

Oil futures have been volatile in recent weeks as traders have tried to reconcile the possibilities of further rate hikes, which could curb economic activity and, therefore, cut fuel demand growth, against tight supply from disruptions in trading of Russian barrels because of Western sanctions amide the war in Ukraine.

“Gasoline inventories last week plummeted and that will likely put a floor under where we’re going,” De Haan noted, adding that he still is uncertain whether the national average for gas will drop below $4.

“I think we could pop back up,” he continued, pointing out that major hurricanes and shutdowns “are unexpected” and, therefore, “we still could go up just as quickly as we are going down.”

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De Haan stressed that while gas prices are “close to 80 cents lower than they were at their peak,” inventories globally and in the US are still “extremely tight” and “any disruption will be magnified by the fact that we’re still in the summer driving season.”

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