For 14th Month In A Row, Americans Drive Less — Will The Trend Last?

In yet further positive news for those who wish to see a more eco-conscious world, the USA has once again seen the low figures regarding vehicle use continue. Ohio was the best example of this, seeing an incredible 10 percent drop in the number of vehicle miles traveled. The western states did show a very small rise but nothing that can be considered notable. The question is however, a questions which we have actually been asking for the past 13 months, is whether or not this will continue?

The Issues

Whilst on the face of it the reduction in vehicles on the road sounds absolutely great. The reality however could be different. Instead of looking at this from the perspective of how great that we are polluting less’ if you consider it from the ‘I got my car repossessed after losing my job due to the economic downturn’ angle, it doesn’t look so great. The indications are however that more people are switching to car pooling and to using public transport instead of using their vehicles and that of course is a great thing. 

Long May It Continue?

While there is not exactly a wealth of supporting evidence just yet, it’s also not to difficult to think about an argument for why it could happen. For example, consumption is falling and in percentage terms it is highly doubtful that it will ever return to it’s recent norms. Ultimately that means less shopping trips, less vehicle purchases, and far less vacations. Vehicle ownership rates are likely to decline a touch, transit use will probably keep moving upward. This, together with some new form of VMT tax or congestion pricing in the coming years, that could be enough to keep Americans’ road mileage below recent highs


From an infrastructure point of view this will be a game changer in terms of plans which many have for spending. If this trend were to continue then any developments or projects which involve the mass construction of new roads and highways, or even extensions and widening programs will have to be rethought. The focus should therefore be on the investment which we are making into our public transport routes, networks and the fleets which we have. This could in fact be the perfect time to double down on public transport spending so as to entice more people to use those links and ensure that those who have made the switch, remain on the public transport. 

This is absolutely essential and this is also the perfect time for us to take stimulus money out of the hands of greedy land developers who are looking to create road projects which only fit there own needs with regards to developments which they are in the process of creating. Let’s get that money back into to public transport system.