According to the Federal Highway Administration, the vehicle on the streets and the roads of the UnitedStates fell to its lowest levels since 2003. This is the first time  that the annual total has fallen below three thousand since 2006, when it first rose above that figure. Many have speculated on the cause of this drop, but the reality is there that are multiple reasons and factors behind this huge drop. 

Let’s take a look at a few of the key specifics of the report.

  • In the month of December all of the largest declines in miles were in the Pacific Northwest, with Oregon falling 15 percent and Washington 11 percent. But that had more to do with snowstorms than it did with anything else.
  • In the northeastern US, which had benign weather, December travel was actually up marginally over 2007 levels.
  • Declines were, not surprisingly, most dramatic in June when gas prices were highest.
  • It seems reasonable to think that without the poor economy the number of miles driven nationally in December would have been back on trend, although again this is speculation.

Reasons Behind Such a Big Drop In Miles

There are an awful lot of reasons behind this drop in miles and yes the economy is certainly a large part of this, with rising gas prices and many people struggling to afford car payments following the economic crisis. We have seen from public transport figures that there are more and more people using public transport links and many of those will have migrated from car use to a lower cost mode of transport. 

Wider Pressure

The attitudes which the world have towards driving cars with regards to climate change are of course very strong and it would be foolish to think that this was something that has not had an impact on the number of vehicles on the road. There is a groundswell of support for the climate change movement and given that we have found so much more evidence than ever before, it has been far easier to convince people to jump on board and to adapt their lives in a way that lends itself to looking after the planet better. One thing that cannot be denied is the fact that having fewer cars on the road has reduced carbon emissions. 


All told this is great news for everyone, it is an indication that we can switch to more of a car-less society and it is also showing the impact which this can have on the planet. There is of course a real concern that these figures showcase a poorer USA where people don’t have the money to pay for a vehicle or the funds to drive it, the hope is of course that it is less the economic conditions which have prompted these figures, and more a matter of choice. 

Assuming it is the latter, long may this trend continue into the future.