Gov. Phil Murphy has described record-high gas prices as "a little pain," but it's hurting a lot worse for many families.

A new survey from AAA shows the majority of families are now having to cut back on spending in other areas to cover the extra they are paying for gas.

Over half of respondents to the AAA survey (59%) say they are now making changes to their driving habits and lifestyle habits.

If gas prices were to hit $5, that number goes up substantially. 75% say they would be forced to cut back on things like discretionary shopping and eating out.

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Among Americans who said they would make changes in response to higher gas prices, a majority (80%) said they would opt to drive less, with some differences among age groups:

  • 18 to 34 year-olds are almost three times as likely as those 35 and over to consider carpooling (29% vs 11%), which would likely involve major changes to their daily travel plans.
  • Those 35 and over are more likely to favor combining tips and errands (68% vs 52%) and to reduce shopping or dining out (53% vs. 43%).
  • While many Americans may adapt their daily habits to make up for higher gas prices, it likely wont have as much of an impact on summer travel. AAA's survey found that 52% of Americans have plans to take a vacation this summer.
  • Of those, 42% said they would not consider changing their travel plans regardless of the price of gas.

A bigger concern for New Jersey is the impact on summer travel and the effect that would have on tourism.

Prior to the spike in gasoline, many tourism experts were forecasting a record year with virtually all pandemic restrictions lifted.

The figures in the AAA survey are encouraging on that issue.

AAA found that 52% of Americans have plans to take a vacation this summer. Of those, 42% said they would not consider changing their travel plans regardless of the price of gas.

People driving from out of state to stay down the shore and day-trippers from the region are a big part of the Summer tourism scene in New Jersey. A drop in that sector would hurt overall tourism numbers.

Gas prices have already hit $5 a gallon in Western parts of the country, but most experts do not think New Jersey will see prices that high. Analysts have predicted prices will top out at about $4.75 in the Garden State.

As of Friday morning, AAA reported an average price of $4.37 a gallon for regular in New Jersey. The price has been rising about a nickel a gallon every day this week.

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