Management & Operations

U.S. driving drops for second consecutive year

Posted on January 23, 2009

With new data released today, America's trend of declining driving started its second year with a loss of 12.9 billion vehicle-miles traveled (VMT), or 5.3 percent less, in November 2008 compared to the same month a year earlier.

It is the largest such decline of any November since monthly data estimates began in 1971.

The consecutive 13-month trend of declining driving - between November 2007 and November 2008 - now tops 112 billion VMT, compared to the same 13-month period a year earlier. It dwarfs the 49.9 billion VMT decline of the 1970s, a decade characterized by high gas prices, fuel shortages and a recession.

At 6.4 percent fewer VMT compared to November 2007, the data show the South Atlantic region - a bloc of eight states and Washington, D.C. - and the West experienced the biggest declines. This is the third month in a row that the South Atlantic led the nation in declining driving.

At 11.6 percent fewer VMT, Rhode Island led the nation with the largest single-state decline that month. Utah and Vermont followed with declines of 9.1 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively. As it has since the trend began, the decline in rural driving in November 2008 outpaced urban driving.

To review the VMT data in FHWA's "Traffic Volume Trends" reports, including that of November 2008, visit



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