April 2008 saw another sharp drop in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) according to the Federal Highway Administration’s monthly report on “Traffic Volume Trends” (PDF). This follows, “the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history” in March (see here).

I was compelled to blog on this because of the incredibly astute media coverage by AFP, “worldwide news agency,” which wins the “Duh!” award for the month:

Observers surmise a possible link between the declining number of miles driven and rising US gasoline prices.

Wouldn’t want the ever-cautious media to leap to any conclusions. (Note to AFP: Observers surmise a possible link between the declining number of readers for big media and the rising blandness of your/their coverage.)

As it becomes increasingly clear that high gasoline prices are not a fluke, Americans are adjusting their driving habits. The longer prices stay high — or go even higher — the more people will start to make permanent adjustments in their driving — and then, ultimately, in where they live and so on.

Here are the details from the April report:

In April 2008, Americans drove 245.9 billion milles, compared to 250.3 billion in April 2007. Indeed, the April 2008 figure is lower than the April 2004 figure. To see just how remarkable that is, look at the annual vehicle-distance traveled data (in billions of miles) since 1983 (this is a moving 12-month total):