The following is from the Feb. 18, 2008, edition of The Los Angeles Times. Professor Bruce Bullock, executive director of SMU's Maguire Energy Institute, provided expertise for this story.

Fewer drivers over a barrel

By Ronald D. White
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Americans are getting serious about using less gasoline, confounding some economists who have argued that most people can't reduce their driving much because they have to get to and from work and make those necessary trips such as shopping and chauffeuring their children around.

The truth is more complicated, according to some energy experts: When the price reaches a certain threshold or the driving reaches a peak point of aggravation, people are willing to give up personal space and independence.

"There is an awful lot of what might be called discretionary driving," said Edward Leamer, an economist with the UCLA Anderson Forecast. "Raise the price high enough, and you will see that there is a lot more that people can do."

For some, the next drop in prices won't be enough to send them back to their old driving habits.

"The trend will be toward more lasting conservation and longer-term savings if they are not just reacting to prices and have instead made a decision to change," said Bruce Bullock, executive director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business in Dallas.

Read the full story.

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