What’s the new ‘normal’ for gas prices? $3 a gallon? $4?

When gas hits about $3.44 a gallon, half of U.S. adults say that’s when they feel pain at the pump, according to a new national AAA consumer price index that tracks consumer attitudes.

The report finds the mid-$3 mark has now become the new “normal” for many motorists, who once considered $3 a gallon as their lifestyle tipping point.

Changing their driving habits

When national prices reach the mid-$3 mark, 62% of Americans say they change their driving habits to offset the high prices. According to the open-ended survey, here’s how they do that:

— Driving less, 86%

— Reducing shopping or dining out, 71%

— Driving a more fuel-efficient car, 54%

— Delaying major purchases, 53%

— Working closer to home, 39%

— Carpooling, 33%

— Using public transportation more regularly, 15%

Younger drivers vs. older drivers

The index also reports that young consumers between 18 and 34 are more likely to offset high gas prices by working closer to home (48%) or using public transportation more regularly (25%). With adults over 35 years of age, 35% would work closer to home while 10% said they’d use public transportation rather than their own car.

Average gas prices in nation and state

The current national average price of gasoline is $3.52 a gallon, which is 15 cents lower than a month ago and 34 cents lower than a year ago. The average price has remained above $3 for 28 consecutive months.

While national prices haven’t surpassed $4 a gallon since 2008, it’s not uncommon for motorists living on the West Coast, in Northeast and near the Great Lakes to pay more than that.

In Connecticut, the average price of gas now is $3.72 (April 23), which is 19 cents lower than a month ago and 42 cents lower than a year ago. In the state’s four metro regions — greater Bridgeport, greater Hartford, greater New Haven/Meriden, and greater New London/Norwich — prices average a high of $3.84 to a low of $3.64.

About the survey

The American Automobile Association developed the price index by asking respondents in a telephone survey a series of open-ended questions. Respondents were asked at what prices do they start to consider gasoline prices to be too high.

AAA Southern New England serves more than 3.5 million members at 46 offices in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island. The organization offers travel, insurance, finance and auto-related services such as driver’s license renewals, international driving permits, and theme park and movie ticket sales.