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Americans Driving At Historic Lows
Eleven Billion Fewer Vehicle Miles Traveled in March 2008 Over Previous March


June 01, 2008

Americans drove less in March 2008, continuing a trend that began last November, according to estimates recently released from the Federal Highway Administration.

"That Americans are driving less underscores the challenges facing the Highway Trust Fund and its reliance on the federal gasoline excise tax," said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Jim Ray.

Given the drop in driving, federal statistics show Americans drove 11 billion fewer miles in March 2008 than in March 2007. That means a prime source of road maintenance and construction money has begun to dry up.

An upshot of American's cutting back on driving in the face of soaring gasoline prices is the loss of what could be billions of dollars in the Highway Trust Fund. This fund is the pool of money fed by federal gasoline tax revenues that are siphoned from each gallon of gas sold. States and cities depend on these funds to build new roads or fix old ones.

The Federal Highway Administration's "Traffic Volume Trends" report, produced monthly since 1942, shows that estimated vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on all U.S. public roads for March 2008 fell 4.3 percent as compared with March 2007 travel. This is the first time estimated March travel on public roads fell since 1979. At 11 billion miles less in March 2008 than in the previous March, this is the sharpest yearly drop for any month in Federal Highway Administration's history.

Though February 2008 showed a modest 1 billion mile increase over February 2007, cumulative vehicle miles traveled has fallen by 17.3 billion miles since November 2006. Total vehicle miles traveled in the United States for 2006, the most recent year for which such data are available, topped 3 trillion miles.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimated that greenhouse gas emissions fell by an estimated 9 million metric tons for the first quarter of 2008.

The estimated data show that vehicle miles traveled on all U.S. public roads have dropped since 2006. The Federal Highway Administration's Traffic Monitoring Analysis System (TMAS) computes vehicle miles traveled for all types of motor vehicles (motorcycles, cars, buses and trucks) on the nation's public roads. These data are collected through over 4,000 automatic traffic recorders operated round-the-clock by state highway agencies. More comprehensive data are published in the FHWA's "Highway Statistics" at the end of each year.




Source of News:

United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration



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