I will assert that high gas prices aren't as important to Europeans because the vast majority of them rely on public transportation to get around their cities. I'm not sure about out-lying areas, but at least the major cities in Europe have excellent, reliable buses, trams, trolleys, even subways to get people where they need to go. Hence, cars are not relied upon as a primary means of transportation so much as they are here in the US.
I think the gas prices going up may be a good wake-up call for people to stop using their cars to go everywhere, and start using public transportation. Unfortunately, since most major US cities don't even have a subway, that will be difficult. What our country REALLY needs, in the long run, is to get away from so much private car useage. That, of course, will make it necessary for state and local governments to concentrate on developing a good infrastructure of public transportation EVERYWHERE. The investment might be pretty big, but I DO
think it is necessary for our nation to get beyond its current oil-hungry policies. Fuel-efficient cars are only a small part of the progress needed.