Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Gasoline Consumption & Miles Driven Drops

For the seventh straight month in a row, motorists have driven less. This marks the first annual drop in driving since 1980. The trigger could have been the $4 a gallon gas we have been paying, and if people start to change their habits, it could snowball and add to the fewer miles driven statistic as people alter their lifestyles.

Americans drove 9.6 billion fewer miles in May 2008 than in May 2007, the third largest monthly drop in the 66 years the data has been collected, the Federal Highway Administration said in Sunday's report. The decline amounted to 3.7 percent from May last year.

Interestingly enough, May's drop comes during a month that traffic usually rises because of the Memorial Day holiday and the start of the summer-vacation season.

What else can be effecting the gas consumption? Motorists increasingly are using fuel-efficient vehicles, carpooling, and taking mass transportation.

This all means the federal highway trust fund - which relies on per-gallon taxes that do not rise with price - faces a multibillion-dollar shortfall next year, down from a surplus of more than $10 billion just three years ago.

Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said in a statement on Sunday that the drop in driving miles demonstrated that the federal gasoline tax no longer was sufficient to finance the nation's transportation infrastructure.

The highway trust fund gets 18.4 cents per gallon from gasoline sales and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel sales. Driving fewer miles and using more fuel-efficient vehicles means less gasoline consumption - and less funding for the trust fund.

If gas prices continue to fall, will you start driving more again?

Source: Inquirer Wire Services

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