Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gas Prices and Driving Miles

Greetings Peaksters

One our fondest hopes is that as gas prices rise, people will change their habits - drive less, car pool more, maybe even take mass transit!
However as these startling graphs show, people are pretty stuck in their ways. People like to point to 73-74 and 78-80 to support the view that American drivers respond to prices, And it is true that prices rose and VMT fell during those periods. However it appears that the decline in driving was not _caused _ by the rise in prices
Take a look at 2002 through 2008. Gas prices more than _doubled_ rising from from $1.50 to $3.50. Motorists responded by the same amount!
No it appears that the only thing that will get Americans out of their cars is a recession, as we see in 73-74; 78=80 and 2008-2010. And even then, the reduction is minimal. The reduction is quickly lost during the next recovery. And over time the amount we drive just keeps rising.

Final note: These are per capita figures. What happens is you add in population increases?

Graph Shows Influence of Gasoline Price on Miles Driven in the U.S. : TreeHugger

gas prices and driving graph image
Image: Stanford, based on data from the EIA, FHA, and Brookings Institution, and NYT graph.


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