Alas, pricey gas

Local teens feel pinch of high fuel costs

Local teens feel pinch of high fuel costs

May 13, 2006|By TIFFANY ARNOLD


Getting a car seemed a little more exciting when she was 16, before gasoline prices crept toward the $3-per-gallon mark.

Like many young drivers, Katie Everhart, 17, of Hagerstown, has to pay for her own gas. And with the high prices, she said she barely can afford to buy anything else.

"I have a lot less money to spend," said Katie, who holds a part-time job at a Hagerstown bookstore. "Basically, I have a $200 check, and $100 of it goes to gas."

Though the more than 3,000 drivers 18 and younger account for only 3 percent of all licensed drivers in Washington County, according to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, they still are feeling the brunt of the high cost of gas, especially when tapped-out parents refuse to pay for it.


Gasoline in Maryland is averaging around $2.99 per gallon, according to the most recent AAA Mid-Atlantic figures.

While the prices are sucking everyone's wallets dry, some young drivers don't always have the option of cutting back on their driving.

Katie, a junior, drives to and from North Hagerstown High School. She also must drive to and from the classes she attends at Shepherd University - a 36-mile round trip.

Tally Katie's trips to and from high school, Shepherd and work with the rest of her after-school commitments, not including occasional trips to the mall, and you will get one whopping gas bill. She said it costs around $37 to fill the tank of her 2000 Nissan Altima.

"I put at least 300 miles a week on my car," Katie said.

Cara Gaver, 18, said she also has to pay for her own gas, but said she gets better gas mileage on her Saturn SC2, which only costs $27 to fill up.

That's way better than the Bronco she used to drive.

"That thing used to guzzle gas," Cara said.

Cara, a senior at North High, said she's thankful that she doesn't have many extracurricular activities and that she lives near the high school. She drives around 150 miles per week.

"Lately, I just go to school, and I just take my bike if I can," she said.

Cara and Katie both have been making more trips than usual to the high school since both are involved with the school's production of "Romeo and Juliet."

Katie is the makeup and stage manager, while Cara landed the leading role of Juliet. The show debuted Thursday and closes Monday.

Hemin Patel, who plays Paris in the North High production, said his parents pay for his gas. They also own a Sunoco gas station on Dual Highway.

But don't jump to conclusions.

"They get a discount, but it's only a couple of cents cheaper," said Hemin, a 17-year-old senior. "They still have to pay for gas."

The U.S. Energy Information Administration, in its most recent report, pointed to world oil market conditions, growth in U.S. demand and new fuel requirements as contributors to the high gas prices. Still, Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, boasted $8.4 billion in first-quarter profits, according to published reports.

Hemin said it costs about $30 to fill up the tank of his Honda CRV, which typically need refills twice a week. His parents would like to see him fill up less.

"My parents lecture me about the amount of driving I do," he said. "I don't have a job. I don't have any money, but if I had a job, I'd probably have to pay."

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