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U.S. Driving Continues to Decline in 14-Month Trend

February 19, 2009

WASHINGTON – America's trend of declining driving continued into its second year with 3.7 billion fewer vehicle-miles traveled (VMT), or 1.6 percent less, in December 2008 compared to the same month a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.  

"The nation's driving decline is another indication of just how important the President's economic recovery plan is," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  

The consecutive 14-month trend of declining driving – between November 2007 and December 2008 – now tops 115 billion VMT, compared to the same period a year earlier. As it has since the trend began, the decline in rural driving in December 2008 outpaced urban driving.  

At 4.8 percent fewer VMT compared to December 2007, the new data shows the West – a bloc of 13 states – experienced the biggest decline. At 14.7 percent and 11.1 percent fewer VMT, respectively, Oregon and Washington led the nation with the largest single-state declines that month which is due, in part, to unusually large snowfall.  

Despite the overall national decline, 17 states posted slight increases – the first identified since August. Colorado led the nation in increased single-month travel, with 5.4 percent – or about 200 million VMT – more than in December 2007.  

To review the VMT data in FHWA's "Traffic Volume Trends" reports, including that of December 2008, visit    

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