Skip Nav
Surprising Qualities of Your Zodiac Sign That You Don't Already Know
15 Unique Ways You and Your SO Can Celebrate Your Anniversary
34 of the Most Romantic Films on Netflix This Month

Americans Drive 1.4 Billion Fewer Miles

Americans Drive Much, Much Less — and Roads Are Suffering

Well, you know what they say, you can't win for losing. "They" would be my mom, and I just realized that doesn't actually make sense. But! In the world of gas, doing good is coming back to haunt us. The steep gas prices and/or environmental concern led to 1.4 billion fewer highway miles driven by Americans in April this year than the same time last year, so says the Department of Transportation.

It's the sixth consecutive monthly drop in miles driven and is more than three times larger than the drop from March 2007 to March of this year, which was 400 million fewer highway miles. Yay for us conserving and all that, right? Not if you want nice roads and no traffic when you do drive. Less driving = less gas purchased = fewer taxes on gasoline, which go to fund the federal Highway Trust Fund that gets 18.4 cents per gallon from gasoline, and is used to improve the roads. Sigh. To see tiny cars come out of a vending machine,


Transportation Secretary Mary Peters also said sales of midsize SUV fell 38 percent last month compared with last year. The love of tiny autos did lead to the creation of these amazing Smart Car vending machines, so there's that.

And when you do buy gas, you might want to bring your own measuring cup. In New Jersey, 350 gas stations have received tickets for cheating customers out of the full amount of gas they purchased.

Do we need to come up with an alternate way to pay for roads? Or are we just heading away from cars altogether?


Join The Conversation
KatieLake KatieLake 9 years
I think this comes down to no matter what we do to fix something there is always a consequence. Everything has it's Pros and it's Cons. This just happens to be really evident with the gas situations right now: even looking at alternatives. I would love to have an alternative that helps decrease pollution, cost less, all those good things but it seems like many alternatives we are discovering don't have the kinks worked out yet and also have their problems. I.E. Sugar cane and corn as fuel actually produces more pollutants than what we have. In this time it is so easy to hear the slightest Con and panic because it seems as though everything is piling on all at one time. When it rains it pours. Personally I try to be positive and take actions that make a compromise to current situations. It'll get worked out and we'll find better solutions. Just give it time.
stephley stephley 9 years
Apparently, what's bad for the highway is good for Amtrak.
amybdk amybdk 9 years
Rac: Oh thank God!
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
i will get down off my soapbox here in just a second, but see the movie "taken for a ride" and you'll then understand how we went from cities and suburbs with ample rail and trolly service to cities filled with heavily polluting buses and suburbs connected by freeways designed for the passenger vehicle. surprise! the auto industry was behind the whole shift.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
poor road crews, what are the poor saps who have been working on I-75 tampa bay area for 10 years going to do now?
i-heart-monster i-heart-monster 9 years
MSucre - in a perfect world with no weather, the money needed to fix the roads should depend on how much they were driven on. However, flooding, snow, and extreme heat all take heavy tolls on our roads whether or not we drive on them. So, the government needs that tax to keep up with all of the wear and tear that drivers don't do too as well as what we do when we're driving. erinflower - i totally see your point about the steep rise - and I agree - it totally sucks. LaurenG22 - :o) i heart the word twofold!
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 9 years
the problem is twofold: 1)lack of public transportation and spread out suburban areas 2) American's have a mentality that they want control of their time and ability to move, and thus want to drive EVERYWHERE and might not even want to take public transportation if it was offered to them. I have never said twofold before so I am not sure why I said it.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
if we'd been spending the tax on alternatives like bike lanes, high speed rail, and subsidized public transportation, we'd be in a much better situation than we are today. the truth is, if you build a freeway, people will fill it up with cars. ask any transportation analyst, adding extra lanes on freeways does NOT reduce congestion. we need to be incentivising public transit. make it easy, make it cheap, and remove the stigma that exists in the suburbs that only poor people use it.
erinflower erinflower 9 years
I heart monster I agree with you. The problem is that prices have risen so dramatically in such a short period of time that it is causing people to struggle. If prices had risen slowly I doubt it would sting quite so much.
MSucre MSucre 9 years
I don´t understand why driving less would cause a money shortage. Theoretorically it would seem that the money taxed would correspond to the money needed to fix the rolls. If less people are buying gas/driving then we would need proportionately less money to fix the roads, No? Less people on the road = less wear and tear = less money needing to be spent. Is anyone else in the mood for trains? Gosh, I would love to just have more trains. They are soooo convenient.
i-heart-monster i-heart-monster 9 years
I don't think the gas tax suspension will actually give us relief. Granted, $30 bucks is $30 bucks, but didn't we all just get like $600 a piece in stimulus? Honestly, it amazes me that we've been able to keep a gallon of refined gasoline at even close to the cost of a gallon of water. You go to the convenience store and you pay $1.79 for a gallon of water out of the cooler - it was way easier to get that water than it was to get that gasoline! So, at the risk of everyone ganging up and pitchforking me, I think $4/gallon for gas is fair - it sucks, but I think it's fair.
stephley stephley 9 years
um. popsugar says Reese Witherspoon is a breath of fresh air... could that count?
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Why can't something go right? I hate everything right now.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Well less driving does imply less impact on the road. However, because our attention to our roads and bridges is already at such a great defecite that evening out is for all intents and purposes worthless. I say once the war actually over we pretend it's still going on funding wise and give all the money per day that went to Iraq to the department of transportation until they make up that deficit. Improve our roads repair our bridges and connect the nation under a comprehensive high speed rail system. Then when that's done the a.k.a. war funding can stop.
RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
My son is out of school and I've been using mass transit to get to work. Since I've been taking the subway to work I've saved about $90 on gas.
Meike Meike 9 years
Fine by me. How about redirecting the funds from weapons technology to road maintenance? We don't need new ways to kill more people, right? Right? :D
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 9 years
All I know is that we have definitely modified our driving. We are less likely to drive multiple states for a vacation or even to visit the inlaws on a whim... :) hehehee
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Tolls help the states, but those profits are generally directed into the general fund (like in IL). A small portion of those profits actually go back into the dept of trans to take care of the roads.
graduatedsqueaks graduatedsqueaks 9 years
Don't tolls help pay for the roads, too? I'm guessing the same thing is happening there: less driving=less tolls.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
Ah. Thanks for the info stephley. :)
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I say we just cheat and print extra money. Hehehee!
stephley stephley 9 years
McCain's still talking about it: "In the short term, I can give you some relief," McCain told Craig, laying out his proposal to suspend the 18.5-cent federal tax on every gallon of gas for the summer." from an article about McCain's town hall meeting at Missouri State University this week.
UnDave35 UnDave35 9 years
I hadn't heard anything about the gas tax holiday in a long time.
stephley stephley 9 years
this is before anyone gets around to suspending the gas tax.
Chelsea Manning Nightline Interview on Being Transgender
How to Travel Without Hurting the Environment
Megan Couto Becomes First Woman to Captain the Queen's Guard
How to Clean Your Stainless Steel Sink
From Our Partners
Latest Love
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds