The typical American family says it can reduce its annual driving by about 11 percent without experiencing any hardship, according to a Conference Board survey that covers 5,000 households across the country.
An 11 percent cutback would produce an annual saving of more than 200 million barrels of oil, equivalent to about one month's worth of imported oil.
The survey reports that 45 percent of the families say they can reduce their driving by more than 10 percent -- with half of this group suggesting cutbacks of 20 percent. Another 20 percent say they can curtail their driving 5 to 10 percent. About 35 percent say they cannot reduce their current driving patterns at all.
Families under 25 years of age say they could cut back, on average, about 13 percent; among those 45 and over, the average is only 10 percent. Household size and car ownership are cited as the main reasons for these differences. Young families include fewer people of driving age, while those in the 45- and-older age group include more sons and daughters of driving age.
The majority of families (53 percent) favors gasoline rationing if the government is forced to take action to reduce driving. On other possible restraining measures, however, such as weekened closing of gasoline stations, or a one-day-a-week prohibition on car driving, an overwhelming two-thrids of surveyed families voted negative. Also, 90 percent of all participants are against jumps in gas prices as a means of discouraging driving.