We're Driving Less for the First Time in Decades

The U.S. Department of Transportation released their report on America's driving habits in 2008 last week. Overall it's pretty dry, but the chart below is astounding. The period of 2006 to 2008 saw the only substantial decline in miles driven in the last 25 years-and a big one at that.

So add this to the list of charts trending downward these days. Unlike most of the others, however, this decline's good.For some more detail, here's a look at average daily miles driven month-by-month in 2006, 2007, and 2008.

So what do you think is most responsible for the drop in driving? Is it the gas price scare of the summer? The economic collapse of right now? Environmental awareness? Our awesome new public transportation sys-oh, nevermind, we'll have to wait on the stimulus package for those.And, more importantly, do you think we can keep this trend going? Could we drop another 400 billion miles driven annually and get back to 1998 levels? It's a little worrisome to see the gap between 2008 and previous years narrowing in December in the charts above.