Washington, D.C. – A new report by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) finds that Americans have been driving less since November 2007, and that vehicle miles travelled on all U.S. public roads fell by 4.3 per cent in March 2008, when compared to March 2007. That marks the first time that U.S. travel has fallen in March since 1979, and is also the sharpest yearly drop for any month in the history of the FHWA, which has produced its monthly Traffic Volume Trends since 1942.
The agency estimates that cumulative vehicle travel on U.S. public roads has fallen by 17.3 billion miles since November 2006. Vehicle travel on U.S. public roads topped 3 trillion miles in 2006, but is likely to fall short of that this year if current trends continue.
The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that greenhouse gas emissions fell by an estimated 9 million metric tons for the first quarter of 2008. However, the FHWA also warned that the drop in vehicle travel is bad news for the viability of the Highway Trust Fund, a major source of funding for interstate highways, which depends on revenues from the federal gasoline excise tax.