Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Largest Record of Conservation in U.S. History?

The Federal Highway Administration reported that travel during June 2008 on all roads and streets in the nation fell by -4.7% compared to June last year. June marks the eighth consecutive month of traffic volume decline compared to the same month in the previous year. Travel YTD through June in 2008 fell by -2.8% compared to 2007.

There was never more than a single monthly decline in traffic volume (vs. the same month a year ago) until 2006, a few examples of two consecutive monthly declines 2006 and early 2007, but never in the history of these data was there ever a period of more than a 2-month consecutive decline until recently, and therefore the 8 consecutive monthly decline (November 2007 through June 2008) in miles driven is a record, and represents the most significant adjustment to driving behavior in recent history.

On a moving 12-month total basis, traffic volume in May fell to a three-and-half year low of 2.954 trillion miles, the lowest level in almost four years, since October of 2004 (see chart above), and this measure has fallen in each of the last eight months. Further, the 13 billion mile decrease in June's moving 12-month total was the largest monthly decrease on record, going back to 1983, and marks the most significant moving 12-month decrease in miles driven in at least the last 25 years.

Q: Now that gas prices started falling in July and August, will consumers continue to reduce driving, or will they revert back to their old driving patterns? We'll know in about a month, when the July traffic volume report is released.


At 9/03/2008 8:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The largest record of Conservation in U.S. History?

Not yet. We need more time to draw the conclusion. Thus far, the decline from the August 2007 peak to the June 2008 trough of 1.8% in vehicle miles travelled (VMT) ranks behind the prior oil supply shocks.

The historical record shows that VMT peaked in November 1973 and recovered by May 1975 (a peak to trough decline of 2.2%); peaked in April 1979 and recovered by August 1982 (a peak to trough decline of 3.3%).

At 9/04/2008 5:42 PM, Blogger Dr. T said...

"Now that gas prices started falling in July and August, will consumers continue to reduce driving, or will they revert back to their old driving patterns?"

Some persons have purchased or soon will purchase vehicles that get higher gas mileage. They then will drive more miles, helping to reverse the current trend.

At 9/05/2008 2:33 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

I'm sure the downtrend will disappear, but it certainly will lower -- more people have bought high mileage cars, and, equally, have been reminded that, in the course of the next five years, prices may jump again -- so they will continue to steer away from high-mileage vehicles for at least the near future, until the price-shock fades from their memory -- give it at least 2-4 years assuming another shock doesn't occur. So, while the downtrend will stop, I believe the overall usage will be on a slower upward slope than before.

At 9/05/2008 2:34 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

By "high mileage" I mean "high MPG".

Sorta "Duh", but just so my intent is clear.


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