Gas Prices Soar, SUV Sales Decline

Crude oil is going for more than $75 a barrel, and that's pushing up the price per gallon at local stations. Right now, the statewide average is $2.85, nearly as high as post Hurricane Katrina levels.

It's an upward trend we've been seeing for a while now, and there appears to be no end in sight. KLTV 7 wanted to find out when people will say "enough is enough", and make some serious changes to help ease the pain on their pocketbooks.

Since the millennium, gas prices have increased on a pretty steady clip, and we've noticed every cent along the way.

Joana Spina bargain shopped for cheap gas back when it was $1.45 per gallon.  "I just kept going down the street hoping it would get a little cheaper," she said.

Arthur Owens struggled with the high prices at $1.55 per gallon.  He said, "It looks like I'm going to have to take out a bank loan before I fill up."

As the price per gallon crept up to $2.00 per gallon, Anthony Martinez started thinking twice about taking road trips.  "I'm actually going to Oklahoma weekend after next, and I'm worried about trying to keep up the gas money for that trip," Martinez said.

Now, as a gallon of gas flirts with the $3.00 mark some people, like Craig Finley,  are simply throwing their hands in the air and accepting defeat.

"When it jumped from $2.00 dollars, and everybody was fine with that, then it jumped up to $2.70... $2.80. Everyone kind of panicked about that.  Now, we've kind of accepted it and kind of gone on with our lives now," said Finley.

Others are changing what they drive, according to

In May of 2004, large SUV's made up 5.7% of the new vehicle market. This year that number fell to 3.6%. That's a 37% decrease.

At the same, compact car sales are skyrocketing. In May of 2004, they made up 15.7% of new vehicle sales. This year they make up 18.9%. That's a 20% increase.

But Craig Finley, like many others, is still holding on to his SUV. Some people keep them for the room.  Others because of the towing capacity.

So, at what point will the price to drive it simply get to be too high?

Finley says, "It's hard too say.  If you asked me this three years ago, I would have probably said, around  $3.00. Well, right now, we're paying that, and we're going on with our life.  I don't know.  Six dollars?"

Until then, he says he'll just be more particular about where he goes.

Lindsay Wilcox, Reporting: