U.S. Driving Curbed at Historic Rates

As we noted earlier, American’s drove less in January. While February showed a modest increase, March dropped sharply. In fact it was the sharpest monthly drop in 66 years of reporting.

High gas prices and this continued downward trend (which began in 2006) only reinforces the fact that we need to provide more transportation options for Americans, including public transit and bicycling facilities.

Here is the complete press release from the Federal Highway Administation:

Americans Driving At Historic Lows

Eleven Billion Fewer Vehicle Miles Traveled in March 2008 Over Previous March

WASHINGTON – Americans drove less in March 2008, continuing a trend that began last November, according to estimates released today from the Federal Highway Administration.

“That Americans are driving less underscores the challenges facing the Highway Trust Fund and its reliance on the federal gasoline excise tax,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Jim Ray.

The FHWA’s “Traffic Volume Trends” report, produced monthly since 1942, shows that estimated vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on all U.S. public roads for March 2008 fell 4.3 percent as compared with March 2007 travel. This is the first time estimated March travel on public roads fell since 1979. At 11 billion miles less in March 2008 than in the previous March, this is the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history.

Though February 2008 showed a modest 1 billion mile increase over February 2007, cumulative VMT has fallen by 17.3 billion miles since November 2006. Total VMT in the United States for 2006, the most recent year for which such data are available, topped 3 trillion miles.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimated that greenhouse gas emissions fell by an estimated 9 million metric tons for the first quarter of 2008.

The estimated data show that VMT on all U.S. public roads have dropped since 2006. The FHWA’s Traffic Monitoring Analysis System (TMAS) computes VMT for all types of motor vehicles (motorcycles, cars, buses and trucks) on the nation’s public roads. These data are collected through over 4,000 automatic traffic recorders operated round-the-clock by state highway agencies. More comprehensive data are published in the FHWA’s “Highway Statistics” at the end of each year


One Response to “U.S. Driving Curbed at Historic Rates”

  1. Share the Road: Biking in Detroit | m-bike.org Says:

    […] We have roads like Second Avenue, Third Avenue, and John R with four lanes traveling in one direction and very few cars.  How few? In 2005, John R saw 1,405 vehicles per day at Owen.  That’s an average of less than 1 car per minute on a four lane one-way road.  And we’re driving less now. […]

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