Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Great Driving Reduction: Consumers Save Money Voluntarily, With No New Legislation

According to data released today from the Federal Highway Administration, travel on all roads and streets in the United States fell by -1.2% in March 2009 compared to March 2008. This marks the 17th 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 now for 16 consecutive months, going back to December 2007 (see chart above).

The 12-month moving total for March is the lowest traffic volume (2,914 billion miles) in any month since February 2004 (see red line on the chart above, click to enlarge).

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is asking consumers to put their money -- up to $1,300 per new vehicle by 2016 -- behind his plan for higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and tougher rules on their greenhouse gas emissions.

In return, Obama said Tuesday in unveiling the plan, drivers would make up the higher cost of more fuel-efficient, cleaner vehicles by buying less gas at the pump. It would take just three years to pay off the investment and would, over the life of a vehicle, save about $2,800 through better gas mileage, the president said.

MP: It seems like consumers have already decided on their own that voluntarily buying less gas at the pump can be in their own self-interest, and are now driving the same number of miles as they were five years ago, even with more cars and more drivers. Without stricter CAFE standards, consumers on their own have been driving less, have been buying less gas at the pump, and in the process have reduced greenhouse gas emissions.


At 5/20/2009 10:25 PM, Blogger fboness said...

I know how to reduce driving miles. Make everyone buy an American car.

The Jeep Liberty I have owned for one month has been awaiting repair for two weeks.

Ths is my first American car in twenty five years. I held a grudge that long. Apparently that wasn't long enough.

At 5/20/2009 11:39 PM, Blogger Robert Miller said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 5/21/2009 12:05 AM, Blogger misterjosh said...

Thanks for the detailed analysis Robert. I think Mark's right, but because of the reduced truck traffic, it's not as dramatic of a consumer reduction in driving as the graph might seem to indicate.

At 5/21/2009 8:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also the drop in truck traffic may not be all bad. While some will be because of the economic slowdown, some may be because of a shift to non-road transit, like rail and boat.

At 5/21/2009 9:20 AM, Blogger Marko said...

pssst - don't make this too well known, or the Dems will start talking about raising the gas tax again to "help" us get these savings. They will call it using market forces to save the earth, just like Crap and Trade.

At 5/21/2009 3:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How much of this reduced traffic is from fewer trucks delivering goods to market including Mexican trucks?"

Truck traffic is only about 5% of all vehicles, but they drive a lot of miles.

Almopst all of that mileage is short haul - less than 150 miles, so don;t expect to get much gain by shifting to arge and rail - that one is a pipe dream.



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