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Price hikes lead to changing habits

   $3.80. $3.90. $4. $4.10. $4.27. And up and up and up.

   Gas prices are soaring faster than the August-like temperatures we've seen over the past few days, and there's no end in sight for the increases.

   The record-setting prices are a frustration to just about everyone, but a growing number of drivers are starting to do something in response to the growing cost of fuel.

   Some drivers are trading in their gas guzzlers for hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles. Others are turning to car-pooling or riding a bicycle to help cut down their weekly gas bill. Many are beginning to take the bus or Metro Rail.

   And a few are changing their entire driving habits, shopping only at the cheapest gas stations and militantly combining trips and slowing down while on the highway.

   We'd like to hear what you are doing in response to high gas prices. Have you changed your routine at all? Have you started leaving your car at home more often?

   And do you think any of this will make a difference in the price at the pump?

  --- Stephen T. Watson

Tiger in your tank keeps getting fatter and fatter

   Stop the presses: Gas prices hit another record high for the Buffalo area Wednesday, soaring to a $4.07 average for a gallon of regular, according to the AAA of Western and Central New York.

   The records -- both locally and nationally -- keep coming as a wide variety of economic factors has driven the price past another psychological milestone, $4 per gallon.

   In response, drivers are becoming more creative in their search for the Holy Grail of cheap -- or cheaper, anyway -- gas.

   Some rely on tips from friends or co-workers. Others turn to the AAA's Field Price Finder Web site … www.aaa.com/gas  or www.buffalogasprices.com to find deals.

   Still more go to the Tuscarora or Seneca Indian reservations to get a deal, though drivers complained the savings aren't as great as they were in the recent past.

   It's all a far cry from when Robert Vallone, an 82-year-old Cheektowaga resident, first started driving as a high school student in the early 1940s.

   "Then it was 18 cents a gallon, and you got a six-pack of Coke," said Vallone, a retired civil engineer, who was topping off his immaculately maintained 1978 Chrysler New Yorker at a Delta Sonic in Cheektowaga.

   Today, $2 gas seems as much of a distant memory as 18 cents, so we're wondering how you're coping with these high prices.

   How do you find the best deals in town? Do you have a favorite place to buy gas, one that's reliably cheap? And how high do you think prices will go by the end of the summer?

-- Stephen T. Watson