Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Great Driving Reduction Continues

According to data released today from the Federal Highway Administration, travel on all roads and streets in the United States fell by -0.9% in February 2009 compared to February 2008. This marks the 16th consecutive month of traffic volume decline (starting in Nov. 2007) compared to the same month in the previous year. The moving 12-month total for traffic volume has fallen for 15 consecutive months, going back to December 2007 (see chart above).

The 12-month moving total for January is the lowest traffic volume (2,917 billion miles) in any month since February 2004. Further, the 107 billion mile reduction in the 12-month moving total since February 2008 (3,024 billion), represents about a $14 billion reduction in fuel costs for American drivers, at an average fuel efficiency of 23 m.p.g., and an average fuel cost of $3 in 2008.

Thanks to John Thacker, who recently commented that "As the great driving reduction proceeds in its second year, it shows no particular signs of slowing. The 12-month moving total of vehicle miles traveled (2,917 billion) is now below that of March 2004 (2,918 billion), with a larger population and more vehicles."

13 Comments:

At 4/21/2009 7:41 PM, Blogger 1 said...

Hmmm, gasoline reached its highest price this past June of '08, right?

Well it still pays to have a big car found on John Lott's web site: Critics of a shift to smaller cars have a powerful ally in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The IIHS, the insurance industry's auto-safety research arm, has long argued against small cars on safety grounds

 
At 4/21/2009 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a symptom of how bad the recession really is.

 
At 4/21/2009 10:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous is right.

How about plotting this against job losses or GDP or something.

Hydra

 
At 4/22/2009 4:44 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> This is a symptom of how bad the recession really is.

Or a reflection on how good it was before... but that half-full notion is outside the bounds of acceptable thinking for a libtard.

One cannot allow for the opportunity to want things like they were under Bush... Noooooooo that cannot be.

 
At 4/22/2009 6:51 AM, Blogger 1 said...

"How about plotting this against job losses or GDP or something"...

Good idea hydra, why don't YOU just go ahead and do that...

 
At 4/22/2009 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought Mark might have more expertise with the data, and a better library of sources.

Also he can post a graph and i can only post text.

------------------------

OBH: I don't understand your comment. If driving mileage is related to the economy, (up OR down) what has that got to do with Bush or any other administration?

Hydra

 
At 4/22/2009 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Or a reflection on how good it was before... but that half-full notion is outside the bounds of acceptable thinking for a libtard.

One cannot allow for the opportunity to want things like they were under Bush... Noooooooo that cannot be."

You must be biting oxycontin with El Rushbo. Can you hear me now?

Oh yes, the Bush economy. That truly was great! It generated 3 million net jobs vs. the Clinton-era's 23 million. That'll show those liberal bastards!

And which sole industry was pulling its weight while the rest of the private sector sat on its fat ass? Health care! Fuck, we don't need rules, guidance, or regulation in an economy. We don't need sidelines or referees in an NFL game. We can trust the players' big egos for fair play, Ayn Rand's encompassing wisdom ensures that=)

But here's the real money shot. This recession has less than a million jobs to shed before this decade has a NET JOB LOSS! Hmmm... do you need another oxycontin to help swallow your learning disability on this one?

Of course you do. Because you dumb nuts were stupid enough to vote for the retard twice, and were stupid enough to be duped into Iraq while the rest of the world was asking, "WTF?"

 
At 4/22/2009 12:11 PM, Blogger John Thacker said...

This is a symptom of how bad the recession really is.No, it's not. The economy plays some role, but the effect of gas prices is much stronger. Look at the graph. The steepest fall was when the economy was growing but gas prices were rising. When gas prices fell, the decline moderated even though the economy was getting worse.

One thing to temper this month's results-- February 2008 was a leap year, and February 2009 was not. So on a per-day basis, February 2009 was up. Of course, total driving in February 2008 was down on February 2007 even with it being a leap year. So it's possible that we've reached a bottom in miles driven, at least until the next time gas prices rise significantly. (Whether by taxation or not.)

Look at the graph there and on the government site. You can see that the economy has only a small effect on miles driven in most cases. Any recession in 2001 is only a blip on VMT, and the line returned to its previous trend by the end of 2002, growing faster in 2002 to catch up. The slowdown in VMT started in 2005 as gas prices started increasing, first surging in the summer to fall back somewhat in winter.

And note anyway that 2001 had more expensive gas than 2002, so again it's unclear that the economy had much affect compared to gas prices.

Any comparison of "the Bush economy" is silly anyway, since, as the article that Hydra linked notes, Bush took office just as recession had started that would have started anyway had he not been elected. By that same silly measure the "Obama economy" and "Obama's job record" is really bad, since there have been huge job losses in all the months since he was elected. It's absurd to blame Bush (with some merit) for the job numbers in the first few months of Obama's presidency, yet not blame Clinton for the first few months of Bush's presidency.

 
At 4/22/2009 12:19 PM, Blogger John Thacker said...

But here's the real money shot. This recession has less than a million jobs to shed before this decade has a NET JOB LOSS! Ah, Hydra, but that will be "the Obama economy," right? Or else you're being silly by counting job losses at the end of the previous economic cycle against Bush. The boom was ending during 2000-- the stock markets peaked from December 1999 to March 2000. (depending on whether you're talking NASDAQ, Dow Jones, S&P, FTSE) The job losses took another few months to show themselves, since stocks tend to be leading indicators.

Hydra, are you really claiming that absolutely nothing about the economy was a bubble from 1999 to 2000, and that the end of the boom was not inevitable; rather, that it was sustainable?

Breaking things up into decades or presidential terms is not a "real money shot," it's a sign of weak thinking at best or dishonesty at worst. Looking at things from business cycle to business cycle would be more accurate-- and indeed, would show that the previous business cycle (that ended around 2000) was stronger than the current one, but without the dishonest numbers.

 
At 4/22/2009 1:00 PM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

I think people are just getting smarter and learning new shortcuts and stuff

 
At 4/22/2009 2:16 PM, Blogger Patrick said...

If you don't have to drive to work (lots of people don't now) then of course there will be a driving reduction.

 
At 4/22/2009 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the effect of gas prices is much stronger. Look at the graph. The steepest fall was when the economy was growing but gas prices were rising."

Here Thacker has a point that makes sense.

Much more sense than ranting about which party screwed us over the most.

VMT did fall during the last gas crisis. But we also know that VMT and GNP are linked on an almost one to one basis, I just can't find the graph right now.

Certainly we know that overall energy use and GNP are closely linked. The US is denigrated for our profligrate energy use, but we are very efficient at using it: we get more GDP per BTU than almost any other country.



My guess is that whatever an administraton does or doesn't do is not immediately reflected in the economy, but lags for a period of time, there fore it is meaningless to talk about the Reagan Years or the Carter years, especially if youa re going to pick and shoose your data to prove a point.

Political blather aside, (ignoring who is or isn't responsible for the economy we have or eventually get) is VMT closely related to GNP or is it more closely related to gas prices, for example.

The difference could have important policy implications.

I'm inclined to believe most people go some place for a reason: to conduct some business. Any action to limit VMT is likely to reduce business and GNP.

I didn't say anything about bubble or Obama. but since you asked I'd say draw a long term graph of S&P 500 or Dow. You get a long tail on the left with two big lobes on the right: the tech bubble and the housing bubble.

If you draw some kind of least swares line or long term average the bubbles come way out on the top and the current value of that line is around 8500 to 9500: not that far from where we are now.

People are calling this a recession because they are measuring down from an abnormal high. but compared to long term expected growth we are actually about right. The world and business are not coming to an end.

Hydra

 
At 4/22/2009 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Breaking things up into decades or presidential terms is not a "real money shot," it's a sign of weak thinking at best or dishonesty at worst. "


I agree.

Unless you are trying to compare presidential terms and policies, and then you would have to establish some ground rules and apply them equally to both kinds of adminsistrations.

Lacing ground rules, it is weak thinking, dishonesty, or blatant partisanship sans thinking.

RG

 

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