Now we know how the numbers meet the road. In 2015, Americans drove four percent more than we did in 2007, but our overall motor-vehicle gasoline consumption was down slightly. For this seeming magic trick, we can thank "improvements in light-duty vehicle fuel economy," according to the Energy Information Administration. In other words, we're not changing our behavior, but our cars are picking up the slack.

Thanks to even greener cars, lower gas prices, and an improved economy, the trend will likely continue. The EIA's Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) says that for 2016 and 2017, motor gasoline consumption will average 9.23 million barrels per day. That's "about 0.6% below its 2007 level." The EIA says our vehicle miles traveled will grow again, up five percent and seven percent, compared to 2007, in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

Overall vehicle miles traveled took a big dip in 2011, probably because of high gas prices. That year, we drove less that we had in any year since 2004. The idea that cleaner cars actually cause people to drive more is a thing – a thing that we saw in Sweden a few years ago, in fact. Armed with the idea that their cars were not as bad for the environment as they had been, Swedes ended up putting more CO2 in the air because they were driving more back in 2011. As least here, for now, the fuel economy increase is outpacing our time behind the wheel.

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