American Motorists Pay More, Drive Less

american motorists pay more drive less

While energy ministers and diplomats wrangle over the supply side of high oil prices, Americans are already tackling the demand side. USA Today reports that Americans drove 22b fewer miles in November – April compared to the same period in '06 – '07. That's the biggest drop since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 – '80. Sticking with the stats, miles driven has fallen by one percent, down to 2005 levels. Way back then, there were eight million fewer [documented] U.S. citizens. So… U.S. drivers are cutting back by considerably more than the one percent average. According to Federal Highway Administration data, the sharpest declines are taking place on rural roads. Marilyn Brown says Americans have concluded that the "the era of cheap energy is a thing of the past." The Professor of energy policy at Georgia Tech says she thinks "the difference between now and 1979, when prices were comparable when you adjust for inflation, is there's a sense of sustained pain."

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  • JJ JJ on Jun 23, 2008

    Kind of surprising this... In Europe, especially the Netherlands and some other countries, fuel prices have been and still are considerably higher than in the US for decades now, yet for decades, this hasn't affected the amount of cars sold/miles driven... People need/want to drive cars no matter what. Maybe a case of subjective utility though, I guess you reach a certain point where incremental price raises have less of an impact... There's not much buzz going on either about fuel prices anymore, although it's always slumbering right below the surface, which became especially obvious when our recently elected left wing government (and we would consider democrats right wing, so that means something) decided it was a good idea to raise diesel taxes with an additional 3 cents/liter. Well done guys, really in touch with your citizens there...

  • on Jun 23, 2008
    "the difference between now and 1979, when prices were comparable when you adjust for inflation, is there's a sense of sustained pain." In other words, we only see it getting worse not better. Of course the general devaluation of the dollar, an economy on a downward swing, and a real estate market in free fall could have something to do with it.

  • WalterRohrl WalterRohrl on Jun 23, 2008
    JJ : June 23rd, 2008 at 2:38 pm Kind of surprising this… In Europe, especially the Netherlands and some other countries, fuel prices have been and still are considerably higher than in the US for decades now, yet for decades, this hasn’t affected the amount of cars sold/miles driven… Sure it has. For those same decades, the people over there have been buying smaller cars with smaller engines and less of them per capita. You don't see large (or barely any) pickups, nowhere near as many big cars and all of them come with much smaller or at least more fuel-efficient engines as the norm. They never got so out of whack to begin with and have a vastly better public transportation system in any case. There is no current large reduction in driving because it is harder to reduce when you're already closer to the possible minimums. Note that what passes for the bottom of the manufacturer's range in the US markets is about the middle in the Euro market (Golf is the smallest car VW sells here, in Germany, they have the Polo and the Fox below it, Mercedes has the C-class here, over there they have the B and A as well, Ford has the Focus here, over there they have the Fiesta, Fusion, Ka, etc.). "Farmers" over there (and around the whole rest of the world) make do (and seem to do just fine) without hulking Pickups. Jim

  • 50merc 50merc on Jun 23, 2008

    "In other words, we only see it getting worse not better. Of course the general devaluation of the dollar, an economy on a downward swing, and a real estate market in free fall could have something to do with it." As does a relentless drumbeat of negativism from the media: "Doom! Doom! Doom! Things are rotten and can only get worse!" Folks need a sense of perspective. One of my wife's kin recently sighed, "High gas prices have just about ruined our lives." Ruined? Because it takes an extra twenty bucks to pull your $20,000 travel trailer to the lake? Jeez, people don't know what hard times are.

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