Americans Driving Less Than Ever

Emptyhighway

If any questions remain about how thoroughly gas prices this year have impacted U.S. drivers, statistics for the month of May seem to have settled them.

The Federal Highway Administration has released nationwide figures that show Americans drove 9.6 billion fewer miles that month than in May '07, a 3.7% drop. This is the largest decline for the month of May since the federal agency began tracking those statistics, which happened 66 years ago.

This also brings 2008's five-month total of miles traveled to 29.6 billion miles less than 2007. Three of the largest declines for individual months have occurred in this time span, with May topping the list.

Consumers have buckled down in many ways, using public transportation more, driving less, and — we hope — utilizing gas-saving tips, like those found on KickingTires.

An unintended consequence of reduced fuel use has been a decline in revenue for the Highway Trust Fund, which gets its money from the federal gas tax. With people driving significantly less, the fund is losing money. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said in a statement that the decline in revenue pointed toward a problem for the future.

As plug-in hybrids hit the roads and Americans find other means and technologies to reduce their gas consumption, the Highway Trust Fund will have to find a different revenue source if we want to keep our highways from crumbling into disrepair.

Driving Drops Again (The Washington Post)

By Stephen Markley | July 29, 2008 | Comments (10)
Tags: In The News

Comments 

smokin88lx

Not too hard to fix, make the tax a percentage of the cost of an average gallon of gas. Up date it once a year so it is not bouncing up and down like a yo-yo. Another thing they don't mention is since people are drving less there is less wear on the roads and therefore don't need as much up keep.

LM

There isn't as much wear, but the roads were already in crappy shape. They're still crumbling. Additionally, all those saved gallons of gas are depleting gax tax revenues needed to fix the infrastructure. Our system is kind of a double edged sword. We're damned if we do (drive) and damned if we don't.

woogie

Most damage suffered this year is from the heavy winter we suffered. Here in Wisconsin we had over 100 inches of snow along with a couple of good thaws in between storms. Lots of freezing and thawing.

Doesn't matter how much you drive on the roads if they're full of frost heaves.

SmithSanchez

How do they calculate this number?

Bloke

Hopefully the next administration can find somewhere to get the money by doing something other than raising taxes. But after the monster deficit the Bush administration has left behind, I doubt it.

History

Here's a free history lesson:
1. Congress puts forth the budgets (ie spending) not the President. (The same for laws. Regardless of what you prefer to believe it's Congress that drafts and passes laws not he President. Congress can over-ride the President but the reverse is not true. If you want someone to blame the buck always stops with the Congress regardless of who's in the White House. Bush may be an idiot, but Congress has a 9% approval rating.)
2. 'woogie' must be lying as Global Warming makes snow and ice impossible.

It's not a surprise that 1% of the population holds 90% of the wealth as the majority of Americans have no concept on how government works (or does not work).

GR

Global Warming is such a gross misnomer. It needs to be addressed as Global Climate Destabilization.

Now, back to tax revenues ... cuts need to be made in administration. People such as Transportation Secretary Mary Peters do NOT need to be paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year(each)to the point that half the budget pays the people to decide how to spend the half that is left.

The British government attempted to solve a similar problem - they told everyone to use a bicycle - it's cheap, eco friendly, get's you fit and reduces congestion. I haven't seen many bicycles tearing down the mororways though

Gerald Hempstead

A simple way to solve the problem would be to make all main highways toll roads. that way the tolls could be used to maintain them. Have d.o.t. set the tolls and keep up the inspections and advise the vendor what maintenance is needed.

LM

When you try and pass a toll people complain. When you try to raise taxes, people complain. People want things for free. It's plain and simple. Americans expect nice roads and transit systems but don't want to pay for them. Politicians lack the backbone to whip them into submission.

So, write your Congresscritter and tell them to raise taxes to fund infrastructure. Period.

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