Americans driving less;
decline sets a record
Dec 16, 2008 9:30 AM
Americans drove more than 100 billion fewer miles between November 2007 and October 2008 than the same period a year earlier, making it the largest continuous decline in American driving in history.
"As driving decreases and vehicle fuel efficiency continues to improve, the long-term viability of the Highway Trust Fund grows weaker," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters. "The fact that the trend persists even as gas prices are dropping confirms that America’s travel habits are fundamentally changing.
"The way we finance America’s transportation network must also change to address this new reality, because banking on the gas tax is no longer a sustainable option."
The Highway Trust Fund is the federal government’s chief source for financing highway, bridge, and transit projects. It is primarily funded through federal gas tax receipts.
As a result of the continued decline in vehicle miles traveled and the use of more fuel-efficient cars, the Highway Trust Fund collected $31 billion in revenue between October 2007 and September 2008—$3 billion less than it collected in fiscal year 2007—while federal transportation spending increased by $2 billion.
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