Friday, July 25, 2008

Are we really driving less? Really?


We just updated the page where we are tracking the statewide traffic volumes. This month's update is rather amazing, showing that the traffic was nearly 5 percent less last month than it was in 2007, 2006 and in 2005.

We show all three of those years so you can get a sense of the trend, especially since typically Americans drive more each year, not less. We would expect a 3 percent increase in a typical year. In the first five months of 2008, we were seeing a roughly 2 percent drop in volume. But in June, driving tanked. Amazing.

But notice the chart above that shows the average monthly gas prices along with the drop in traffic volumes? The price of gas goes up, the drop in traffic volumes fall.

Surprised?

23 comments:

pwinland said...

Good, less drivers and people getting more fuel efficient cars will bring down the price of fuel and oil. Expect to see prices drop in the next few weeks.

Anonymous said...

WSDOT should set the minimum gas price at $4.00 a gallon. Even if oil drops to $3.00 a gallon, there should be a tax that keeps it at a minium of $4.00. More funding for WSDOT, more fuel efficient cars on the road, less traffic on the highways, less wear and tear on our roads.

the papajohn said...

As for the claims of fuel efficient cars. I had a car from 1985 that got on average 45 MPG. Better than today's technology even. Plus if I am not taking the family with I will always ride my motorcycle. I wonder how much wear and tear I manage to place on the road in that. Yet somehow I have to pay the same for registration and fuel tax. And I also get to give the state more money for endorsement fees. I am not ruining it why should I pay the same?

Anonymous said...

The price of gas should not be allowed to drop under $4.00 per gallon and minimum vehicle fuel efficiency standards should raised over time. Personally, I am only interested in buying an electric car. Until one is available, riding a bike, walking, running, renting cars on the weekends, and public transit is the way that I get around.

The Geezer said...

No, I am not surprised.

I am driving less, by selecting weekend recreation destinations closer to home. A trip to Spokane and back at the end of May taught me that I may not want to spend my discretionary income at the pump.

Is the Geezer happy about that? No, because one of the wonderful things about our great Republic is the freedom to move about (and to take shots at our WSDOT friends!)

Amazing that you attracted so many Fremont Liberals here advocating for high gas prices, Lloyd. Tell ya what. You boyz can go to the statue of V. Lenin, and in his shadow write the Geez a check for the difference in gas prices, and I will put it to good use. That way, your conscience will be assuaged, and the rest of us won't have to buy into your nanny-state utopia.


Geezer rests, but you know it won't be for long.

www.hatemalepost.blogspot.com
www.thespinmeister.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I live in Ellensburg, a relatively small town, so by walking to every place within a mile radius of my home I save gas money and get my exercise too. Even with $4 gas, I spend less than $30 a month on gasoline.

Anonymous said...

The gas inflation is affecting me big time. I live in a rural area -Belfair and to go anyplace costs. Nothing is close. the closest store for me is 6 miles.I only work parttime and not to my choosing. Can't find ft. But I plan each trip and make less trips.

Anonymous said...

I live 6 miles out of Belfair and nothing is close. The gas inflation is putting me in the poor house. I plan my trips and make less of them.

Anonymous said...

Keeping gas a $4 a gallon is a great idea. Any difference should be used by WSDOT for safety and mobility projects to make up for gas tax losses due to less gas being bought. Cheap gas only promotes waste and congestion. Rapid increases and decreases in gas prices make it difficult for everyone to plan.

Anonymous said...

I live in one of the largest cities in the state. Our community is cutting bus service. I will be off the bus and back into my car soon.

Anonymous said...

Yep, I've been affected by the higher prices. My commute from Lake Stevens has gone form about $200 a month to over $400 a month. I'm riding my motorcycle more. when this project closes out next month I will begin a project in Seattle. Might be able to take the Sounder then. That will save me abut $200 a month.

Yep, Mr/Mrs Anonymous, $4.00 gas will reduce the number of vehicles. It will also result in a radical lifestyle change for everyone. Gee, just think what we could do with $10 a gallon. Then EVERYONE would be off the roads.

Of course, you would starve to death because the farmers couldn't produce and the delivery system couldn't get it to you at a price you could afford. But, then, the government could tax you the rest of your income and provide to you the fruits you want. Soylent Green anyone?

Anonymous said...

I believe the Washington State Dept of Transportation is wurse than bad. If you live in Snohomish or Monroe you are on foot or bicyle with little safety. It is important the the gas prices and taxes go to solving the problem and not in officals and law makers pockets for little help for the tax paying public.

I am not impressed with the "DUMBLE STRIPS" although everyone should be awake be for their accident!!!

Anonymous said...

Great that we are all driving less! I'm trying to as well. Now, WSDOT, we need you to dramatically alter your thinking! No more new Corridors or other 'status quo' constantly wider roadways. We need high speed rail with great connections to buses and park & rides. Can you change?!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am driving less, using my bike to run errands and combining trips, also cutting out my pure pleasure drives.

Anonymous said...

I ride my motorcycle whenever possible, because I can commute for 1/3 the cost. God help the truckers, though. With diesel at $4.99, many freight lines are going out of business and higher freight costs affect all of us.
I haven't noticed a big decrease in the quantity of vehicles on the roads, but the new trend is to just go slower to save on gas. Many people have started to set their cruises on 50-55, which is annoying and actually dangerous on the freeway in a 70 mph zone. Should we have a minimum speed limit?

Anonymous said...

I will not reduce my driving or purchase a smaller or fuel efficient car to support this example of the goverment politician screwing with the free market and not allowing or delaying the use of natural resources to keep up with the demands. Nucuelar, coal, wind, solar all have a place. The politicians desire for power is greater than their need for power.

Tamara said...

Wow, where do I start? For the yuppie that lives in the city and can walk everywhere...get a clue! Unless you plan on growing your own crops and raising your own livestock (which is going to be hard to do in a little condo or appartment where I am sure you live), then these gas prices need to fall. Can anyone say RESESSION? Because that is exactly where we are headed if something doesn't change. With the economy the way it is and with the unemployment going up, who can afford to buy one of those fancy hybrids anyway? And if you are so concerned with the environment, then why are you just now starting to walk everywhere and cutting back on your driving? Please don't point fingers and act like you have been trying to save the environment your whole life when in reality you are just trying to save money just like the rest of us.

Yes, I am driving less. When I started driving (which was only 5 years ago) the price of gas had just reached slightly over a dollar. That means in the last 100 years the price of gas only rose to a DOLLAR and in the span of 5 years it QUATRIPLED! Please tell me that is not ridiculous.

I do think that this has opened many people's eyes, especially the younger generation that has never experienced any kind of need to conserve, but for the sake of our economy, drill, drill, DRILL! But lets continue to improve our motor vehicles and improve our environment as well.

Anonymous said...

I think that a 55 mph speed limit should be established to not only conserve fuel but also improve safety. Some drivers are more impacted by gas prices than others which results in different driving speeds being adopted. It would be easier to get fast drivers to slow down than slow drivers to speed up due to the financial burden of increased gas prices.

SkagitCarLess said...

I am riding my bike to work 1-2 times a week and have tried transit as well. Can't do it everyday but my goal was to use my car less one or two days a week. Saves money but also provides great opportunity for being physically active.

While I am pleased to see so many other people trying the walking and biking option in Skagit county, I am concerned about some of the riding behaviors that I am seeing with cyclists and have experienced some drivers who are not good at sharing the road.

Riding my bike has more has made me more aware of the importance of working with decision makers to encourage planning and accommodation for all modes of transportation.

Skagit Rider said...

Haven't used a car in several years -- cars are bad for the air and water, promote global warming, make our streets dangerous and contribute to the epidemic of obesity. They also mean that getting around is a real drag on family budgets -- more so in this country than any other place in the world, and this was true before the recent beginning of the gas price ascent.

I get around by bicycle: good exercise, much more in touch with those I pass, and fun!

It has been clear for some time that in not many years the price of fuel will make most trips unaffordable. The physical supply of oil is most likely going down year by year from now on, all the while the demand keeps going up. What contingency plans is the the DOT developing for a) few cars on the roads, and b) many people needing to get around by walking, bus, train and bicycle?

Anonymous said...

For all my errands around our city, I just bike from place to place. All things considered, it probably takes about the same time as driving a car since parking for me is never a problem and I have the advantage of staying safe and away from congestion by riding the sidewalks.

Handicap ramps are a true blessing for cyclists because you do not have to stop and pull your tires up and over the curb. Municipalities need to make sure that handicap ramps are placed on every corner. Making our towns and cities user-friendly for the handicapped, mothers with strollers, and cyclists is a inexpensive way to increase mobility.

Tamara said...

So that is it. The answer to all of our prayers is for all of us to move to the big cities and walk or ride a bike? Well, for me and my family, we do not like cities, we do not like the overall attitude in the cities and we sure as hell do not enjoy living in confined places! I need a yard and neighbors who wave at eachother. So this seemingly simplistict idea of perfection by moving to the city is not for me. I also have concidered riding a bike to work, but I work in a uniform, a white one at that and there is no way that I am getting on a bike and pettaling my way around. I am glad that walking/bike riding is working out for some of you, but remember that, as crazy as it sounds, there are people who do not 1. live in the city and 2. do not want anything to do with one. So transit is going to continue.

And for the slow pokes who want the highway speeds to drop...I just have to laugh. So, you are the ones who are driving in the fast lanes (it's crazy but in other states, the left lane is concidered the F-A-S-T lane) going at least five miles under. Well, thank you, you are endangering every other driver out there. I am not sure if you have seen them or not but there is actual road signs that states (and I quote) "SLOW TRAFFIC MOVE RIGHT". I know, it's a hard concept to understand but I know you can do it. Please...drive your 55 miles an hour but move over for those of us who do the speed limit or need to get somewhere in a hurry go past you and let the police officers and the state worry about who is driving too fast.

Anonymous said...

Well, as prices rise. Everyone will make the adjustments to their transportation needs as they think fit. In the meantime, it wouldn't hurt to beef up pedestrian and bicycle paths just in case people do need them in the near future.

Multi-modal transportation is the way to go and we should be working now towards getting everything to connect and giving people transportation options instead of forcing people to use combustible-engine cars and trucks.

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