• Nov 19th 2013 at 10:10AM
  • 107
Experts Say Fewer People Driving Might Mean Peak Car Traffic

Here's a crazy thought: By 2030 we might be asking "What happened to traffic?"

As populations grow, less traffic seems counter intuitive to, well, logic. But the average miles driven by people in developed countries like the U.S., Great Britain, Sweden and France have actually been steadily declining over the past few years. The fall in car ownership and driving is known as "peak car."

Civil engineer David Levinson discussed what a world with less cars would look like in a blog post dated seventeen years in the future. He foresees shorter workweeks for telecommuting workers, leaving cities to convert empty skyscrapers and office buildings into living space. In the future, he writes, most shopping will be done online, leading to more delivery trucks bringing goods to an increasingly centralized population, but far less traffic overall.

The decline in driving is part of a cultural shift. A University of Michigan study found both younger drivers and retirement-age baby boomers are giving up cars or driving less. Generation Y has a particular aversion to car ownership, citing high costs and low wages. The younger generation is also more likely to move to urban centers and utilize car sharing, bicycle riding and public transportation.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      They're focused on percentages of population. But, as the population grows, if the percentages remain the same or dip less than the growth average, the number of drivers still increases. You can play all sorts of 'math games' with statistics, pushing the numbers in whatever direction you wish, then draw whatever conclusion you try to attain. As the old saying goes: 60% of statistics are incorrect. (That's a mild paradox)
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is really a silly article, most of the area of the country does not have the sky scrapers they are talking about. Maybe in large cities some of this might be true, but not in most of the country or rest of the world.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Traffic jams are already a thing of the past for me. I live in Theodosia, MO
      • 1 Year Ago
      Car prices continue to rise, wages continue to fall. It's the "trickle down" effect.
        • 1 Year Ago
        The trickle down effect is a popular belief of Reganomics that if the top percent of wealth earners were doing well (tax breaks, etc.) they would in turn revitalize the economy by paying higher wages to their employees and spending more (i.e. putting more money back into the economy).
      • 1 Year Ago
      Don't know who wrote this, but it is most certainly not a well thought out and scientifically researched article. It is simply an opinion piece. There is no data or facts to back up what is said, and I find the trends I am seeing to be the opposite of what the writer asserts. This is a perfect example of why everyone needs to be careful of what the read and believe on the internet. Most is simply one persons humble opinion, with no basis in fact. Don't be fooled.
      • 1 Year Ago
      First of all, traffic will exist when major roads are under reconstruction. Second, you will have traffic near major airports during the holidays. Try driving in and around O'Hare or Hartsfield the day before Thanksgiving, or the Sunday after. Third, try driving near sports stadiums before and after games. Fourth, try driving near college campuses, when students are returning. I've heard about the traffic back-ups on I-57 near Champaign, when the University of Illinois starts in the fall. They even put up temporary signs with the names of dorms at each exit. Fifth, I'm not so sure about people moving into the cities. A Chicago Tribune study shows that while the population of single and newly-married people in their 20s is rising, the population of people in their 20s and 30s with school-age children, as well as the population of school-age children is decreasing. The city may be great when you're young, but the suburbs have the better schools, and crime is lower. Last, large employers may still want to be in the suburbs, simply because there may be a variety of reasons not to be in the city, from taxes to closeness to an airport. Yes, telecommuting will still increase, but for a lot of people, working at home means being isolated from their bosses, direct reports, and peers. My wife worked at home for a while, because she was the only person in her office in her business unit. So, she was isolated from her friends at the office and from her business unit. So, when she switched jobs, she liked going to the office every day.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Gee is that why the oil companies keep raising prices any time they want look at the prices this week up up and away why cause it’s holiday time so they take advantage of us again why do we continue to allow this BS cause we have no reputation from our elected ones so keep reaching in your back pocket until nothing is left
      • 1 Year Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Translation: because we intend for this worldwide DEPRE$$ION to be permanent, car habits will change.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Depression?? As you type away on your little computer? Man, my great-grandparents would slap you silly.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good luck with that idea people!
      • 1 Year Ago
      dumb article
      • 1 Year Ago
      This may be a potential future vision for current larger and highly condensed cities where everything could either be delivered to you (for a price), or accesible within walking distance or through public mass transport. But I rather seriously doubt that we'll be seeing this future vision in most American cities within the timeframe stated. Telecommunting may very well be the future for many jobs that are computer or phone based allowing most to stay home and perform their job accordingly during preset hours as if they are actually sitting in some cubicle inside a downtown skyscraper. This alone would help reduce the daily traffic congestion. But physical labor and service jobs will still require actually living very near the workplace or commuting from the suburbs. Also, the average Suburbia, USA would still likely be spread out and people will still need individual transportation due to the distances travelled or from the lack of infrastucture and funding to provide viable public transport to everyone directly to/from their home. Public systems have a vast amount of improvement before this future vision can be considered in my area.
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