July saw another sharp drop in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) according to the Federal Highway Administration’s monthly report on “Traffic Volume Trends.”
Lost in all the news about the financial meltdown and the election is the report that Americans drove 3.6 percent less, or 9.6 billion miles fewer, in July 2008 than July 2007. Okay, maybe it wasn’t lost in all the news — it looks like the FHA didn’t bother issuing a press release (see here). I guess even they are blasÃ© about reductions in driving that just a few months ago would have been record-setting.
In any case, the moving 12-month trend-line remains striking:
The figure again makes clear $4 a gallon is the first (but not the last) genuine tipping point for U.S. drivers — though obviously it will get harder and harder to know whether further drops in driving over the next several months are due to high gasoline prices or the sharp decline in the U.S. economy.
Yes, gasoline prices are headed down in the short-term, but that will be the subject of another post.