Local News

Triangle ranks as nation's biggest gas guzzler

Posted May 12, 2011 4:00 p.m. EDT
Updated May 13, 2011 5:32 a.m. EDT

— Drivers in the Triangle spend more on gas each year than anywhere else in the U.S., according to a new study.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology, a Chicago think tank that studies the cost of living and working in cities nationwide, crunched data collected by the federal and state governments to determine how much people in various ZIP codes drive. The group's calculations don't account for gas burned while sitting in traffic congestion.

The average household in the Triangle racks up 21,800 miles per year, which the center says translates into 1,074 gallons of gas. With prices approaching $4 a gallon, that means area drivers are spending close to $4,300 in gas annually.

"I burn a lot of gas," driver Glenn Coleman said. "I live in Louisburg, and I work in Apex."

Like many area residents, contractor Jeb Powell doesn't think twice about driving from one end of the Triangle to the next on a daily basis.

"I just got back from Clayton. The day before, I was in Willow Springs. The day before that, I was in Wake Forest. I've driven all the way to Fayetteville," Powell said.

"If you want to live in the nicer areas, you have to come to the city to work, and that's kind of where I'm at," waitress Janell Ethridge said.

State lawmakers are considering opening up the coast to offshore drilling for oil, and it's clear North Carolina drivers could benefit from increased supply and lower gas prices, with the Charlotte and Triad areas also ranking among the nation's top gas-guzzling locales.

The Charlotte metro area was right behind the Triangle. The average household there added 21,500 miles to the odometer, spending about $4,250 for gas per year.

Drivers in Greensboro and Winston-Salem spent about $4,050 to drive 20,700 a year, which ranked sixth nationally.

Atlanta and Nashville, Tenn., placed third and fourth nationally. Other areas in the Top 10 include some New Jersey suburbs of New York City, Jacksonville, Fla., and Washington, D.C.

New York City itself ranked as the nation's top gas-sipper, with the average household spending $1,920 on gas to drive 9,800 miles each year.