So it looks like the public might have decided $4 a gallon gas is too much to pay.
As a country we drove 40 billion miles less in the last seven months than we did all last year. There was also 40 million more people taking public transportation than ever before.
Experts say that it isn't just the high cost of fuel, but also the overall decline in the economy that has driven the change. It is the largest decrease in our country's driving habits ever recorded.
Fuel prices are edging down, but now is not the time to ramp our driving miles back up. For many of us, cutting back on our driving was not too terribly painful. It did necessitate some sacrifice and a lot more coordination in our lives, but overall it is worth it.
No one wants to return to the age of horses and buggies, but we all need to face the fact that many of us drove places that we could have easily walked. I admit, I have driven from K-Mart to the Dollar store in the same shopping mall because I was lazy and it was too hot(or cold.)
Now when I am feeling lazy, I just stay home because I don't feel like riding my bike. Somehow it is easier to justify that it is too hot to ride somewhere.
We still are an automobile driven society and I'm not sure if that will ever change. But, our habits have also forced the auto industry to a direction they should have been going already. They are producing their cars with greater fuel efficiency and developing hybrid technology at a faster pace than they told us they could just two years ago.
Hmm, makes you wonder, doesn't it?
Other benefits from the reduced driving is that highway deaths are down considerably this season. Pretty good perk, if you ask me.
Also our air is a bit cleaner. One look at the pictures of the air quality of Beijing, China as they try to reduce their pollution before the Olympic games and I am glad we have the standards in place that we do.
A down side of the reduced driving is a loss in highway maintenance revenue from the gas tax. This will hurt a bit because we do have a huge system of roadways that need maintenance no matter what. But less driving does decrease the wear and tear a bit. Hopefully it may also reduce the need to keep expanding our highway system as well.
I know I can still do better without really degrading the quality of my lifestyle. Many people cannot jump on a bike to get from place to place. Either for health reasons or a true lack of time to get to where they need to be, it is not the answer.
But we all seemingly are figuring this out in our own way. Each of us has found our own answer on how to cut back, even if it is just a little.
Somehow as a nation we did what many did not think possible just a few years back and we showed that we can make a difference in our habits.
We have forced the hand of an industry that took us for granted and what a statement we are making.