Gas Prices Taking Effect: 11 Billion Fewer Miles Driven This March

by Benjamin Jones on May 29, 2008


It seems like high gas prices are finally having an affect on the US. For a while, people got by on the hope that prices were just in a spike, but with oil prices soaring above even the most cynical forecasts, it looks like expensive gas, and changed driving habits, are here to stay.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) just released their March, 2008 numbers, and they show a huge decline of 4.3% over last March. 4.3% might not seem like a whole lot, but just by looking at the above graph, you can see that any drop would be in huge contrast to the trend over the last 25 years.

2008 marks the first time since 1979 that there has been a drop in miles travelled in over the month of March. This drop corresponds to 11 billion less miles traveled, according to FHWA. Over the first quarter of 2008, greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector have also dropped 9 million metric tons compared to past years, something that no amount of political posturing has yet to accomplish.

As we come up on the most heavily travelled summer months and a national average price for unleaded gasoline about to pass the magic $4.00 mark, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues. When more data comes out, we’ll be sure to cover it. In the meantime, you can check out these breakdowns of miles travelled in both city and rural areas over the last 3 years:



Source: Green Car Congress

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1 DRIVER HAN SOLO May 29, 2008 at 9:44 pm


2 Tejvan Pettinger May 30, 2008 at 12:44 am

This is good news. Let’s hope the trend continues.

3 php captcha May 30, 2008 at 3:09 am

Would be interesting to see a graph of gas prices overlaid on these.

Do people really need to drive nearly 500 billion miles more than they did 10 years ago?

4 John thomas May 30, 2008 at 3:53 am

Heck yeah, I know I have cut my driving WAY back since gas went from $2 to $4 a gallon. I ride my Harley now whenever possible leaving the Jeep at home.


5 Ben May 30, 2008 at 5:15 am

Maybe it’s for the best: now we won’t have any need alternate fuel sources, as nobody is using them. And I’m sure that fewer vehicles on the road can’t be all that bad for the planet; it’s doing it a favour too.

6 Justin May 30, 2008 at 7:24 am

“Over the first quarter of 2008, greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector have also dropped 9 million metric tons compared to past years”

Thats great news, I hope the driving trend continues throughout the summer.

7 Chuck May 30, 2008 at 7:46 am

I want to think this is pretty good news on the big picture. People save gas, save money, save the planet. And also there is more research into alternative fuels, and hopefully they’re green and clean too. Here’s one way to not worry about the gas prices and not worry about your carbon footprint.

8 adam May 30, 2008 at 9:31 am

with peak oil having happened in the last couple years gas prices are going to get worse, this is just the beginning. The increased costs of gas will be passed along to everything that we buy.

9 Uncle B May 30, 2008 at 10:26 am

Out in the deserts the solar gnomes work, quietly and quickly building the ‘machine of the oil barons destruction’. They will not cease, even if discouraged buy temporarily lower oil prices, they will not fail us, they will have the job done before the oil runs out . . .

10 Save Gas May 30, 2008 at 10:55 am

I can see innovative public transportation systems flourishing.

11 Ojuicer May 30, 2008 at 12:54 pm

It’s going to take a bit longer to back-track on the whole American dream/urban sprawl thing so that people can live and not really miss out on anything by not driving absolutely everywhere, but this could be the beginning.

12 Ben June 1, 2008 at 8:13 pm

The price of gas hasn’t gone up. The value of the dollar has gone down. There is a subtle but important difference.

13 Hakim Talbi June 19, 2008 at 9:48 pm

Take a look at the picture I took last night at a gas station.

14 aaron June 20, 2008 at 5:43 am

This is not good news, this is very bad news.

American drove less miles in March, but they didn’t use less gas.

This is the consumption for march 2007/2008:


Gas consumption declined less than 2%.

That means we are getting far less out of the gas we are buying. Some possible reasons here: <a href=””High Gas Prices Are Causing Higher Gas Prices

I believe the main reason is bad information, we’ve known for quite a while that faster acceleration is more efficient than slow, however people believe the opposite.

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