With the average price of a gallon of gasoline topping $4 in some parts of the country, Americans have cut back on driving at an unprecedented rate. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced last week that figures from March 2008 show the largest decrease in driving ever recorded, with Americans driving 4.3 percent less—some 11 billion fewer road miles—than during March 2007. The federal government started keeping records in 1942 at the dawn of the highway age.
In an indication that the trend toward less driving continues, the American Automobile Association (AAA) reports that Americans said they were planning to drive less over the Memorial Day holiday weekend than they did the year before.
Less driving also means less gas consumption. The federal Energy Information Administration reported that gas consumption for the first three months of 2008 is estimated to be down about 0.6 percent from the same time period in 2007.
Not surprisingly, public transportation ridership was up some 2.1 percent in 2007, in large part due to rising gas prices, according to the nonprofit American Public Transportation Association. The group added that Americans hadn't patronized public transportation to such a high degree—some 10.3 billion trips—in half a century.