Fewer and fewer miles are being traveled every
year, acording to the U.S. Department of Transportation. From
Dec. 2007 to Dec. 2008, 3.7 billion fewer vehicle-miles were
traveled, a 1.6 percent decrease. This is the second consecutive
year the nation’s driving has continued to fall.
The western states, especially Oregon and Washington have experienced
the biggest decline, Oregon with 14.7 percent decrease and Washington
with 11.1 percent. Although an unusually large amount of snowfall
contributed to the decrease in vehicle-miles traveled, the West
as a whole had a 4.8 percent decrease in vehicle-miles traveled
in the past year.
Traffic volume trends are based on hourly traffic count data
collected at about 4,000 continuous traffic counting locations
by the states. These are used to estimate the percent change,
and the estimates are continually being updated with new data.
The Department of Transportation said figures from March 2008
show the steepest decrease in driving ever recorded, and as a
result, the use of public transportation increased. Americans
took more than 10 billion trips on public transportation in 2008,
according to the American Public Transportation Association.
There are many possible reasons for the decrease in driving,
but transportation officials believe the most likely is the fact
that gas prices were at an all-time high during 2008. According
to AAA, the national average price for a gallon of regular gas
rose to a record $3.94, compared to an average price per gallon
of $3.23 on Memorial Day of 2007.
Marisa Mazza, an HPU freshman, said she drove less because of
the sharp increase in gas prices. “I take the bus out here
more often too. It’s easier and less expensive,” she
According to AAA, for the first time since 2002, Americans said
they were planning to drive less over the Memorial Day weekend
than they did the year before.
However, on Feb. 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. This economic
stimulus legislation will provide $789 billion dollars in spending
and tax relief, and $8.4 billion of those dollars are to be an
investment for public transportation. How this will affect America’s
driving habits remains to be seen.