Urban Fold

High Gas Prices Making Americans Drive Less

U.S. drivers changed their driving habits in 2005 and 2006.

"Two years of record-high gasoline prices have forced auto-crazed Americans to do something they haven't done in more than two decades: Drive less.

...to the surprise of many economists, U.S. motorists changed their ways enough to cut the nation's per-driver mileage by 0.4% in 2005, ending a string of increases dating back to 1980, government data show. Other reports over the last year on mass transit ridership, total miles driven nationwide, gasoline demand, vehicle sales and retail and restaurant spending reinforce the notion that U.S. drivers made significant - and in some cases, lasting - adjustments to offset steadily rising gasoline prices.

...It's a small but important shift for a nation that many believed was impervious to rising gas prices because drivers were unable or unwilling to rein in their gas-guzzling ways."

Full Story: U.S. motorists cutting back a bit



Michael Lewyn's picture

If this trend persists...

It would seem to debunk the idea that sprawl is inevitable and thus the choice of humanity.

Automobile costs

I agree. Automobile-based sprawl stems from heavy subsidization of automobile transportation. Additionally, the high fixed-costs and relatively low variable costs penalize people for driving less and reward those who make the heaviest use of the infrastructure. The trend in this story reflects what would happen with only a change to the relatively smaller variable costs. I wonder how quickly people would shift to alternative transportation forms - and living places/styles - if the true costs of using automobile transport were imposed; particularly through changing more of the costs to variable costs. E.g., mileage-based insurance, a more adequate per-gallon gas tax to pay for all infrastructure, and congestion pricing.

- Brandon

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