Gas Prices Hit the Tipping Point: Americans Driving Less

John Horner
by John Horner
gas prices hit the tipping point americans driving less

CNN declares that "compared with March a year earlier, Americans drove an estimated 4.3 percent less– that's 11 billion fewer miles." The Federal Highway Administration called it "the sharpest yearly drop for any month… since 1942" (when they started keeping records). At the same time, public transportation ridership has hit the highest level in 50 years. The AAA pegs average regular gas prices at $3.936/gallon this Memorial Day, compared to $3.23 last year. Now a sixty cent increase over a year really isn't very much in the grand scheme of things, but the magic number of $4 per gallon seems to have hit the nation's collective panic button. One thing doesn't add up. The Energy Information Center says fuel use is down only 0.6 percent for the first three months of the year. The D.O.T. says March miles traveled are down 4.3 percent. Those two numbers don't seem to jibe, but who says government agency numbers ever make sense? Pick whichever numbers you like, the trend is clear: $4+ per gallon gasoline is curtailing the world's most mobile nation's mobility.

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  • Geeber Geeber on May 29, 2008
    KixStart: The other day I walked to the coffee shop (to save gas and reduce my ass) and more than one big honkin’ SUV pulled up, Suzie Selle-Fowne hopped out, went inside to get her skim, half-caf, no-whip, nutmeg-powdered, double-cupped latte’ and left the monster running! That sounds like an invitation to car theft. Maybe she was hoping that someone would steal it, and she could collect the insurance money and get something else.
  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on May 29, 2008

    I see now that the news reports also claim the Russian car market is "red hot". I guess they will be driving further too.

  • Kph Kph on May 29, 2008

    Sad, but perhaps part of the decline is from people losing their jobs or getting wiped out on their underwater mortgages. Simple things like gas would be a luxury.

  • Yankinwaoz Yankinwaoz on May 29, 2008

    I know I now think twice, and thrice, before just driving somewhere. I am trying really, really hard to keep from filling up the tank more than once every 10 days.