COSTA MESA (CBSLA.com) — Experts say Southern California’s freeways have become more congested as the price of gas has plunged to its lowest point in more than five years.
KCAL9 Orange County reporter Stacey Butler spoke to motorists Thursday night who said they have noticed the trend, but are also enjoying the extra money in their pockets.
“I love it. It’s amazing,” said Jonathan Barrios. “I get to save tons of cash and spend it on other things that are more important.”
“It makes it a lot easier during the holiday season because you can spend more money on your Christmas gifts rather than on gas,” added Jennifer Teel.
“Now it’s like ten dollars cheaper,” noted commuter Alyssa Dunn, who drives over 70 miles a day, but has seen the downside of the lower prices. “As soon as the gas prices got this low, so many more cars were on the road.”
Dunn isn’t surprised that experts say a growing economy, combined with plummeting gas prices, has fueled record traffic on California’s highways.
“There’s always traffic nonstop,” Dunn said.
According to Cal State Northridge professor Kent Hymel, “Probably the biggest reason (for the increase in traffic) is the pretty sharp drop in the price of gasoline.”
According to new state figures, drivers traveled about 185 billion miles on state highways from 2013 to 2014, up almost 5 billion miles from the year before. That’s the largest traffic jump since 2003.
“There’s a lot more people who are out,” said driver Roger Tomlinson. “I’m out more, all my friends are out more because we can afford to go places.”
Some experts are saying that the good economy and lower gas prices are also fueling a increase in new car sales.