The price of a gallon of gasoline has been a major downer so far in 2011, and data shows that it may be affecting driving habits. According to The Detroit News, the Federal Highway Administration claims that Americans drove 1.453 trillion miles in the first half of 2011. That's down 1.1 percent compared to the first six months of 2010, or an eye-popping 15.5 billion fewer miles compared to the first half of last year. In fact, the government report shows that total miles are down to the lowest level since 2004.

Traffic was down on both rural and urban roads during that time span, though the greater drop occurred outside our nation's cities. Rural roads dropped by 1.7 percent, while urban roads declined by only one percent.

There is no telling if economic woes and pricey petrol will continue to keep Americans out of their vehicles in the second half of 2011, but it's a solid bet that we'll fall short of the 3 trillion miles traveled in 2010.


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  • 28 Comments
      cashsixeight
      • 3 Years Ago
      That's because a lot of us don't have jobs.
        Frank
        • 3 Years Ago
        @cashsixeight
        Gold star for you sir! It has nothing to do with the price of gas. If the economy were booming we would have not only more employed going to work, but rising wages that would (at least partially) offset higher gas prices.
        Jim R
        • 3 Years Ago
        @cashsixeight
        We have a winner. We're all driving less because NINE PERCENT of the country has nowhere to go every morning! Remember in 2005 when 5% unemployment was considered unacceptable?
        The Other Bob
        • 3 Years Ago
        @cashsixeight
        I am sure the unemployment has a role, but I think there are other factors. It seems like in the 80's and 90's people were willing to drive farther and farther between home and work. I think the rising gas prices has made that unaffordable, but also I think people are coming to the realization that long commutes take a lot of time away from the family. In 2002ish I moved to reduce my commute from an hour to 5 minutes. The 10 hours per week gained with the family is priceless. Further, people seem less willing to live in the middle of nowhere, many are returning to more populated areas because neighbors are sometimes nice to have. Last, I think it is dawning on people that living in rural areas might have the advantages of lower taxes, but saving $2k on property taxes doesn’t pay when you are spending $3k in gas.
          deeeznuuuts83
          • 3 Years Ago
          @The Other Bob
          Or $500 on utilities, since a lot of people tend to move further inland (like here in California) where it's so much hotter, even though they get a bigger house. My cousin who bought a house in Fontana boasts about how big her house is... though of course her commute is about 45 minutes each way and her A/C is running non-stop at home, plus all relatives live at least an hour away now.
        deeeznuuuts83
        • 3 Years Ago
        @cashsixeight
        I was going to say the same thing. But lower fuel consumption is a good thing.
      Walter
      • 3 Years Ago
      People driving less miles... or less people actually driving due to higher unemployment?
      Jim R
      • 3 Years Ago
      The lead image reminds me of that bit in the beginning of the first CARS movie..where Mack is making faces in the back of a tanker truck... Yeah, I'm not right in the head. I know.
        rolanie3
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jim R
        Reminded me of that too... Totally a memorable scene - you're alright in the head.
      johnb
      • 3 Years Ago
      Probably one of Barry's biggest success stories. He could campaign on this to fire up the environmentalist wing of the party.
        desinerd1
        • 3 Years Ago
        @johnb
        You should give credit where it is due. Bush was president in 2004. I still remember paying $4.50 per gallon in 2008
          The_Zachalope
          • 3 Years Ago
          @desinerd1
          And Obama was president in May of this year when I paid $4.40/gal. What's your point?
          moderate fringe
          • 3 Years Ago
          @desinerd1
          Michelle takes a separate Boeing for vacations. Can't wait four hours. It's do as I say not as I do. Obama had a 300 Hemi til he was 46yrs old and pandered for votes....I mean found out about being green 11 years into middle age..
          NissanGTR
          • 3 Years Ago
          @desinerd1
          STFU tomzi. Cry to your government about how much you pay at the pump.
        The Other Bob
        • 3 Years Ago
        @johnb
        Because supply and demand and China's usage has nothing to do with rising gas prices? Its OK Michelle Bachmann has promised $2 gas. Go vote for her.
          moderate fringe
          • 3 Years Ago
          @The Other Bob
          There's plenty of oil. Actually OPEC has too much inventory lately. No savings for you.
          caddy-v
          • 3 Years Ago
          @The Other Bob
          Gas could very easily go to $2 per gallon and it's not just her that's saying it. It's a two step process. 1. disolve the EPA 2. get rid of Obama.
      BG
      • 3 Years Ago
      Good. It shows that higher gasoline prices DO work, people do modify their behavior to compensate. Environmentally, continuing high gas prices would be good for the USA and place less burden on failing infrastructure.
        Jim R
        • 3 Years Ago
        @BG
        I think it's more the fact that over nine percent of the country is unemployed--hence, no longer commuting to work.
      sazar
      • 3 Years Ago
      I am pretty sure that along with some of the facts people have already mentioned, the entire tele-work angle has a little something to do with it :) I work half of the week from home, sometimes more. In 2004 I was in the office every day. Basically I am driving about 40-50% less per week than I used to and many of my colleagues are doing the same. Our company has about 30k employees on campus and many others in the city of Austin are doing the same.
      Jason
      • 3 Years Ago
      So how do they know exactly how many miles I have driven? Estimate?
      Basil Exposition
      • 3 Years Ago
      That's great news.
      nst1o1
      • 3 Years Ago
      I always like coming up behind the tanker trucks so I can see my reflection (:
        cashsixeight
        • 3 Years Ago
        @nst1o1
        Nah it's way better to drive next to them; your car looks REALLY long, low, and badass.
          nst1o1
          • 3 Years Ago
          @cashsixeight
          LOL, I have a Mazda2, it'd look weird being long!
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