The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

August 30, 2013

Americans driving less as car culture wanes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Driving in America has stalled, leading researchers to ask: Is the national love affair with the automobile over?

After rising for decades, total vehicle use in the U.S. — the collective miles people drive — peaked in August 2007. It then dropped sharply during the Great Recession and has largely plateaued since, even though the economy is recovering and the population growing. Just this week, the Federal Highway Administration reported vehicle miles traveled during the first half of 2013 were down slightly, continuing the trend.

Even more telling, the average number of miles drivers individually rack up peaked in July 2004 at just over 900 per month, according to a study by Transportation Department economists Don Pickrell and David Pace. By July of last year, that had fallen to 820 miles per month, down about 9 percent. Per capita automobile use is now back at the same levels as in the late 1990s.

Until the mid-1990s, driving levels largely tracked economic growth, according to Pickrell and Pace, who said their conclusions are their own and not the government’s. Since then, the economy has grown more rapidly than auto use. Gross domestic product declined for a while during the recession but reversed course in 2009. Auto use has yet to recover.

Meanwhile, the share of people in their teens, 20s and 30s with driver’s licenses has been dropping significantly, suggesting that getting a driver’s license is no longer the teenage rite of passage it once was.

Researchers are divided on the reasons behind the trends. One camp says the changes are almost entirely linked to the economy. In a few years, as the economy continues to recover, driving will probably bounce back, they reason. At the same time, they acknowledge there could be long-term structural changes in the economy that would prevent a return to the levels of driving growth seen in the past; it’s just too soon to know.

Text Only
AP National
  • Social Security's $300M IT project doesn't work WASHINGTON (AP) — The Social Security Administration has spent nearly $300 million on a new computer system to handle disability claims, but the agency can't get it to work. And officials can't say when it will. Six years ago, Social Security embarke

    July 24, 2014

  • JFK returns to old look in new collectors' coins WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — President John F. Kennedy is getting his old look back on new collectors' coins. The slain president's profile debuted on the half dollar 50 years ago, and the image was subtly tweaked and sharpened in the 1990s. Now the U.S.

    July 24, 2014

  • FAA lifts ban on US flights to Tel Aviv airport WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. flights in and out of Israel. The end of the ban, which the agency had imposed out of concern for the risk of planes being hit by Hamas rockets, was effective at 11:45 p

    July 24, 2014

  • Man run over by own truck during road rage GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A man in Florida apparently got a dose of road rage karma when police say he was run over by his own pickup truck after getting out to bang on another driver's window. It happened Tuesday evening in Gainesville, Florida. The

    July 24, 2014

  • New Jersey sues over Florida pizza shop logo TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey Turnpike Authority wants a Florida pizza shop to pay a big toll for using a logo similar to the Garden State Parkway's green and yellow signs. The agency sued Jersey Boardwalk Pizza Tuesday in federal court over th

    July 24, 2014

  • US economy, though sluggish, may now be sturdier WASHINGTON (AP) — Out of a seemingly hollow recovery from the Great Recession, a more durable if still slow-growing U.S. economy has emerged. That conclusion, one held by a growing number of economists, might surprise many people. After all, in the f

    July 23, 2014

  • Judges in health care rulings vote party line WASHINGTON (AP) — In rapid succession, six federal judges on two appeals courts weighed in on a key component of President Barack Obama's health care law. Their votes lined up precisely with the party of the president who appointed them. It was the l

    July 23, 2014

  • House, Senate chart separate courses on border WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats and House Republicans are moving separately to slash President Barack Obama's $3.7 billion emergency spending request for the southern border, but they're unlikely to end up with a deal that could pass both chambers

    July 23, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Today Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. THE FINAL DAYS AND HOURS OF FLIGHT 17'S PASSENGERS The Boeing 777 traveling from Amsterdam to Malaysia held the promise of beginnings and endin

    July 23, 2014

  • Agents get subsidized 'Obamacare' using fake IDs WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress will hear testimony Wednesday detailing how undercover investigators used fake identities to get taxpayer-subsidized health insurance under President Barack Obama's law. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office says

    July 23, 2014

Obituaries
Record
Facebook
AP National