No Longer Loners

Texas motorists seem to be reining in their driving after months of bucking the national trend, The Houston Chronicle reported.

State gasoline tax collections reported in June indicated taxes in Texas fell for two months in a row after a streak of gains earlier this year, even as prices inched toward $4 a gallon, according to data from the Texas Comptroller’s office.

While state officials and others said a number of factors figure into gasoline demand, the recent downturn suggests higher fuel prices are beginning to weigh more heavily on Texas drivers, the newspaper reported.

"It definitely seems like people are very aware now about the price of gasoline," John Heleman, the state’s chief revenue estimator, told the newspaper. The pullback in Texas comes as record crude oil prices continue to keep gasoline at all-time highs.

On Monday, the average national price for regular hit a record $4.11 a gallon, AAA reported, while the average in Texas was $3.97. With the higher pump prices, America’s thirst for gasoline has begun to decline after growing at about 1.5% a year for more than a decade.

U.S. demand was down 1% through May, the first nationwide decline for the January-May period since 1991, the American Petroleum Institute reported.

Texas’ strong economy and somewhat lower gas prices may have kept drivers in that state from pulling back as soon or as much as the rest of the nation, Geoff Sundstrom, a fuel price analyst with AAA told The Houston Chronicle.

"It’s clear that some areas of the United States have been hit much harder by the increase in fuel prices, and even the general downturn in the U.S. economy, than have others," Sundstrom said. "I would think confidence in Houston is a lot higher than it is in Detroit.”

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