Have normalized $4 gallons of gas dulled U.S. drivers?

Here's a thought: the constant but not overly dramatic climb in the price of gas these past few years is numbing us to just how much we're paying for the privilege to fill our tanks. After what it calls "the worst year ever for gas prices" in 2011, the Charlotte Observer found that – locally, at least, in North Carolina – people just don't really care any more. They're stoic. They shrug.

The locals that the newspaper talked to aren't exactly excited to be paying over $3.42 a gallon (that's the average local price; nationally, it's $3.378, according to the AAA), but they realize they need to do what they need to do. This attitude speaks to an apparent dearth of alternatives, and makes us wonder what it will take for alternative-power vehicles to make a mainstream impact beyond the plug-in vehicle success we saw in 2011. Will it just be more availability of these new cars? Or will we need to see more financial pressure to push people into changing their gas-fueled habits?

So, here are two questions for our readers: does the price of gas bother you right now? What will the expected climb to over $4 a gallon this spring do to your attitude?

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