Though the recent decline in vehicle miles traveled has been commonly linked with this year's rise in gas prices, VMT has been on the way down for years, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution.
"An analysis at the national, state, and metropolitan levels of changing driving patterns, measured by Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) primarily between 1991 and 2008, reveals that:
Driving, as measured by national VMT, began to plateau as far back as 2004 and dropped in 2007 for the first time since 1980.
While total driving in both rural and urban areas grew between January 1991 and September 2008, rural and urban VMT have been declining since 2004 and 2007, respectively.
While all vehicle types increased their total driving from 1991 to 2006, passenger vehicles-specifically cars and personal trucks-consistently dominate the national share.
Southeastern and Intermountain West states experienced the largest growth rates in driving between 1991 and 2006, while the Great Lakes, Northeastern, and Pacific states grew at a slower pace.
Total driving on principal arterials is concentrated in the 100 largest metropolitan areas, but the greatest driving per person occurs in low density Southeastern and Southwestern metros.