New York, New York – Half of vehicle owners in the U.S. have cut back on spending in other areas to afford the increased price of gasoline, according to a new Harris Interactive Poll.

Not surprisingly, fuel prices are having more effect on those with lower household incomes: 65 per cent of those with a household income of less than US$35,000 per year have cut back on products or services, compared to 38 per cent of those with household incomes of $100,000 or more.

Of those trimming other expenses, 28 per cent have cut back on restaurant meals; 24 per cent have cut back on groceries; 18 per cent on entertainment; ten per cent on clothing purchases; six per cent on personal grooming such as haircuts or manicures; five percent on auto repairs and upkeep; five per cent on movies, and five per cent on “everything.” Eleven per cent have reduced their driving or are staying home more.

When it comes to blame for high fuel prices, 24 per cent say U.S. oil and natural gas industry profits have the greatest influence; 22 per cent blame world crude oil prices, and 21 per cent believe it is due to instability in oil-producing areas.

For those most likely to be able to stop rising gas prices, 34 per cent said the oil and gas industry; 28 per cent said the federal government; 19 per cent said consumers themselves; four per cent said state and local governments; three per cent said the automotive industry; and 12 per cent said they are not sure.

Looking specifically at the automotive industry, 53 per cent said American companies are not moving as quickly as they should to build more fuel-efficient vehicles, while 22 per cent believe that they are, and 23 per cent they are not sure. This is a large change from 2006, when 74 per cent of those polled said the American car companies weren’t moving fast enough, and only nine per cent thought they were.

The situation has not changed much from 1979, though, when a poll found that 60 per cent felt that the American car companies weren’t moving fast enough on more fuel-efficient cars, while 35 per cent said that they were.

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