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.