‘Miles driven in May drop 3.7 pct’
Thursday, 31 July 2008

REUTERS, WASHINGTON- The number of miles driven on US highways in May fell a record 3.7 percent, or by 9.6 billion, from last year because of soaring fuel costs, the US Transportation Department said Monday.

It was the biggest drop ever for any May, which usually sees increased traffic due to Memorial Day vacations and the beginning of summer. However, high gasoline prices discouraged driving.

During the first five months of this year, highway travel was down 29.8 billion miles.

"This continues a seven-month trend that amounts to 40.5 billion fewer miles traveled between November 2007 and May 2008 than the same period a year before," the department said.

Three of the biggest monthly declines in highway travel, each topping a drop of 9 billion miles, have occurred since last December.

The fall in travel is keeping money from going into the government's highway trust fund that helps pay for road projects.

The fund receives money from an 18.4-cent federal tax on each gallon of gasoline sold and a 24.4-cent tax on diesel.

"By driving less and using more fuel-efficient vehicles, Americans are showing us that the highways of tomorrow cannot be supported solely by the federal gas tax," said Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.

"We must embrace more sustainable funding sources for highways and bridges through more sustainable and effective ways such as congestion pricing and private activity bonds," she said.

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