The Federal Highway Administration reported today (direct link here) that travel during November 2008 on all U.S. roads and streets fell by -5.3% compared to November 2007. This drop marks the thirteenth consecutive month of traffic volume decline compared to the same month in the previous year. Travel YTD through November 2008 also fell by -3.7% compared to 2007.
The thirteen consecutive monthly declines (November 2007 through November 2008) in miles driven compared to the same month in the previous year represents one of the most significant adjustments to driving behavior in American history.
On a moving 12-month total basis, traffic volume in November fell to 2,894 billion miles, the lowest level in almost five years - since January of 2004 (see chart above), and this measure of traffic volume fell in every month of 2008.
Bottom Line: The moving 12-month total traffic volume in November 2008 (2,894 billion miles) is below the November 2007 level (3,006 billion miles) by 112 billion annual miles driven, the largest annual decline in FHA history (data go back to 1971). At an average fuel efficiency of 20 m.p.g., and an average gas price of $3.39 per gallon over that period (data here), that reduction in miles driven represents an annual savings of almost $19 billion for American consumers and businesses.
That's in addition to the much larger $325 billion estimated annual savings for consumers and businesses from the drop in gas prices from $4.12 per gallon to $1.82 since July (gas price data here), since American consumers and businesses save about $1.42 billion annually for every penny decrease in gas prices (see calculation here).