It seems like high gas prices are finally having an affect on the US. For a while, people got by on the hope that prices were just in a spike, but with oil prices soaring above even the most cynical forecasts, it looks like expensive gas, and changed driving habits, are here to stay.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) just released their March, 2008 numbers, and they show a huge decline of 4.3% over last March. 4.3% might not seem like a whole lot, but just by looking at the above graph, you can see that any drop would be in huge contrast to the trend over the last 25 years.
2008 marks the first time since 1979 that there has been a drop in miles travelled in over the month of March. This drop corresponds to 11 billion less miles traveled, according to FHWA. Over the first quarter of 2008, greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector have also dropped 9 million metric tons compared to past years, something that no amount of political posturing has yet to accomplish.
As we come up on the most heavily travelled summer months and a national average price for unleaded gasoline about to pass the magic $4.00 mark, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues. When more data comes out, we’ll be sure to cover it. In the meantime, you can check out these breakdowns of miles travelled in both city and rural areas over the last 3 years: