Drivers Log 30 Billion Fewer Miles in US

by Benjamin Jones on June 19, 2008


Earlier I talked about how March represented a dramatic drop in vehicle miles traveled, but that’s nothing compared to a recent report stating that Americans have cut back 30 billion miles over the last six months. The drop was measured between November 2007 – April 2008, and compared to the same period from a year ago. Overall the drop was only 1%, but compared to an annual increase of 1-2%, the difference from the norm is actually a bit bigger.

The drop is the largest it’s been since the fuel crisis of 1979-1980, and with fuel prices looking to stay high, may represent a permanent change in the way Americans think about travel. Here’s what USA Today has to say about the difference between now and the last fuel crisis (which I wasn’t alive for!):

“It’s not a blip,” said Marilyn Brown, professor of energy policy at Georgia Tech, citing data showing surging transit ridership, dropping sales of sport-utility vehicles and sharply increased demand for gas-efficient vehicles. “I think the difference between now and 1979, when prices were comparable when you adjust for inflation, is there’s a sense of sustained pain. There’s a sense that the era of cheap energy is a thing of the past.”

This comes amid a flurry of TV, magazine, and newspaper stories about people hopping on the bike, moving closer to work, and dumping their gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs at any cost. My experience with change in the US would suggest that the news is exaggerating the reality of the situation, but these new, hard numbers suggest that isn’t the case at all. Even though some aren’t changing their habits at all, enough are doing it to make the largest drop we’ve seen in decades.

Do you think it’ll last?

Image: mattlemmom

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1 Uncle B June 19, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Sit in the bus. Fall asleep, wake up in time to get off. Go home refreshed. Have good sex with your mate. Enjoy better food for supper. Watch some TV. Get to bed early. Catch up on sleep. Let the busdriver do the work tomorrow too! Don’t ever buy into the ads selling cars. never pay car insurance again. No car? no car repairs! Right! Have some extra money in your pocket! Buy those nice clothes, Yes you can! The car ownership habit is very expensive. Don’t get sucked in ever again! Love life.

2 website design June 19, 2008 at 5:21 pm

about time car manufactures feel the pain and start making green cars…the US dictates the car trends and sooner than later we will be in a new car age!

3 JLA June 19, 2008 at 11:01 pm

“may represent a permanent change in the way Americans think about travel. ”

No matter how much americans change how they think about travel, there’s a limit to how much they can change their behavior because american cities were designed around the automobile. Without a vehicle, you can’t reasonably live in most areas of the US. So, buying green vehicles and supporting green capitalism is the best strategy for the US.

4 ashok pai June 21, 2008 at 9:25 am

this is the best news in the whole wide world. and its the same all over the world too. personally, i have cut my travel in half, i take public transport as a conscious choice, and i have begun walking instead of taking the car – in a long time. i am a geek spending lotsa time in front of the computer, and the walk has made a huge difference! thank you expensive gas!

5 Oval_Overload November 14, 2008 at 11:45 pm

When gas prices jumped from $3.00 to $4.20, the number of people crammed in my Taurus swelled from 2 to 5. Gas now stands at $1.80 and I still drive 5 people to town every morning.

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