Gas Mileage and Gas Pains

May 11, 2011, 6:17 PM GMT+0

According to both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fuel economy in American cars is creeping up more slowly than a car approaching New York’s Lincoln Tunnel during a hot summer rush hour….EPA estimates average miles per gallon reached 22.5 in 2010, up from 22.4 in 2009. The YouGov panel reports similar gas mileage—37% say they get 23 miles per gallon or more, 37% say they get 15-22 miles per gallon, 7% fear they get less than 15 miles per gallon, while 6% don’t know and 12% don’t drive.

It is hard to predict the direction of gasoline prices at the pump—they are historically high today, but prices may fall along with falling prices of oil by the barrel. If gas prices stay high, and given that MPG is not improving much, higher gas prices could curtail participation in the annual summer vacation driving season in the U.S. Most feel gas prices are going up (53% think so), while just 17% believe gas prices will go down. Some 19% say prices will remain steady and 11% are not sure.

Full datasets for Economist/YouGov polls can be found here.