Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Breaking Free of the Asphalt Jungle?

As we all deal with higher gas prices, I was impressed by this story out yesterday about how Americans drove nearly 9.6 billion less miles in May. That's a whole lot less miles -- about equal to driving to the sun and back 50 times.

Wow.

To save money like everyone else, I have tried to cut my own driving by combining trips, but there's got to be a few people out there making significant cuts to balance that out. Doing some simple math, with around 200 million licensed drivers in the U.S., that means each would have to average driving 48 miles less last month to equal the 9.6 billion.

I guess mass transit and carpooling can work after all.

Aside from less traffic, I've noticed a few subtle changes on Connecticut's roadways.

- Less speeding. Obviously, the faster you go, the more gas you burn, so I notice that I'm getting passed less and less while traveling at 65 mph -- and that's a speed I've forced myself down to from what was more of a normal cruising speed of 70-75 mph. And yes, I've noticed a tank of gas seems to be going a bit further.

- Where have all the Hummers gone? I know of at least two people personally who have traded in their SUVs for smaller, more economic vehicles, and I have to assume that the fact Ford recently reported record losses and a move away from building larger, gas-sucking vehicles, to smaller, more fuel-efficient ones, there must be an actual trend going on here. By my own eye, there seems to be less on the roads. Interesting.

Of course, traveling by car in Connecticut is still less than perfect -- lots of trucks and construction projects out there. And there are still bad stretches of highway -- the I-95 corridor from Milford to New Haven, is still a dangerous drive. And I know there are others -- as a matter of fact, our monthly FIRST survey wants to know what Connecticut residents think are the worst stretches of roadway. If you have a second, click here and tell us what you think.

1 comment:

rickinthesticks said...

Good article Mr Bendici. I travel I84 into New York every day and I have definatly seen a reduction of SUVs during the morning commute. The good news here is not just the gas usage, but the congestion. I read in the Courant last week that you could only fit something like 74 SUVs in the traveling space of 100 cars on the road. Couple that with the greater buffer you must provide when traveling from behind (due to decreased visibility) and I'd say the SUV congestion factor is much higher. While high gas prices suck, I like that I can almost get through Newtown & Danbury at 50 miles an hour. Now if we could only pass a law to keep those out-of-state vacationing SUVs off the eastern I84 commute from 4 - 7 pm, CT life would be ideal.