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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