Pain at the pump. That’s how many are referring to the record gas prices we are currently experiencing. I got my own taste of this “pain” just last night as I stood at the pump and filled our car with gas. I watched the numbers tick over and over and over until it reached an amount I hadn’t seen before when pumping gas and my mind drifted to the number of hours I would need to work to pay for this full tank.

According to this article by the Chicago Tribune, these prices aren’t going to drop anytime soon. “It’s not going to be a one-year blip and go away like the Internet bubble,” one commentator is quoted as saying. In fact, with the emergence of China and India as economic powers there have been predictions that gas could hit $7 a gallon in the US (currently I believe it is about $4). Now that would be painful.

To be honest, though, I am happy to see high gas prices. Why? Because it is the only way I see a widespread change in attitude to cars and driving coming about.

The Pain

One of the most personally meaningful articles I have written on this blog is Feel the Pain, Then Make the Change. The point of the article was this: sometimes we need to experience pain to make positive changes in our life.

There is no doubt that there are some people experiencing financial pain at the moment, particularly in the US where the economy is shakier than me standing in front of a room full of people and house prices have drastically fallen in many parts of the country. Now, I want to state here that I don’t wish people any additional financial pain, but at the same time it is clear to me that there needs to be a change in both peoples’ driving habits and the types of vehicles we are driving. For example, having relocated to North America from Australia a little under a year ago, I am staggered but just how much bigger everything is over here, in particular the vehicles that people drive.

Changing Habits and Technology

Recently, the New York Times published this article titled Gas Prices Send Surge of Riders to Mass Transit. The title says it all really. In recent years some people have begun to use mass transit as they have become more aware of the environmental issues we face. But it has taken record gas prices to send people surging to mass transit:

Mass transit systems around the country are seeing standing-room-only crowds on bus lines where seats were once easy to come by. Parking lots at many bus and light rail stations are suddenly overflowing, with commuters in some towns risking a ticket or tow by parking on nearby grassy areas and in vacant lots.

In fact, according to Clarence W. Marsella, chief executive of the Denver Regional Transportation District, “we are at a tipping point” when it comes to people catching mass transit. Now that is good news.

The move to mass transit is not the only positive change to occur due to the high gas prices. Car pooling, riding a bike to work and a shift to smaller vehicles are becoming more and more common. And as consumers demand vehicles with greater fuel efficiency, the motor companies have a greater incentive to invest in technology that will meet this demand.

What are your thoughts on the high gas prices? Have you been forced to change any of your habits? Please share your thoughts and/ or experiences in the comments below.

Peter Clemens

Peter Clemens is founder of The Change Blog and author of The Possibility of Change books series. Click here to learn more about Peter and his books.