Photo by Chris Piascik
The INRIX National Traffic Scorecard Special Report revealed this month that the Impact of the rising fuel costs over this past year has significantly changed both traffic and consumer driving habits in the US. With the gradual rise in population every year, we are used to seeing traffic increase, but this year tells a different story.
The survey was conducted this October, 2008, so interestingly it is actually taking into consideration the recent gas price breaks we have been enjoying. The average retail price of gasoline increased dramatically from $2.29 in January 2007 to $4.09 in June 2008, then prices began to plummet in the third quarter, with an average of $3.30 during the week of October 10, 2008.
Proof that Good Driving Habits are Forming Across the US
It appears as if habits of eco-responsible driving may actually be forming across just about every city in America. The most influenced cities being Atlanta, Miami, Las Vegas, and L.A., while New York, Washington D.C., and Chicago remain much less so. The researchers were actually shocked to find that the cities with such a strong public transportation infrastructures, like New York and D.C., were not taking more advantage of them.
We have to take into account the basic social, political, and economic demographic differences. These differences were shown by the 76 percent of those earning less than $35,000 a year who reported a decrease in their driving, while those earning $75,000 a year or more, only 57 percent reported the decrease. Such demographics would explain some of the differences, however, across the board, most all cities and groups reported a reduction in their daily driving.
Conditions of the Survey
The survey was taken using a random group of 2,212 adults age 18 and older (1,977 of whom owned a vehicle). These results were then organized by age, sex, ethnicity, education, educational background, and average household income. Here are some of the most significant findings in the report:And the Survey Says...
96 of the nation's top 100 markets (by population) had drops in traffic congestion levels in the first half of 2008 compared to 2007, with a 3% nationwide average decrease in travel times during peak hours.
The largest and most congested U.S. cities did not respond the same to changing gas prices. Fuel prices had significantly higher influence on traffic in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, Las Vegas than in NYC, D.C. and Chicago.
Two-thirds of consumers surveyed changed their driving behaviors as a result of higher gas prices, of whom 69% took fewer driving trips, 34% said they took shorter trips, 9% carpooled, 8% traveled by bike, scooter, etc. and 7% used public transportation as an alternative choice to driving regularly.
75% of Midwesterners decreased their amount of driving, compared to those in the Northeast (60%), South (67%), and West (61%) [Harris Interactive survey].
A majority (55%) were willing to reduce the frequency or distance of vacations by car if prices rose to $4.50 per gallon or more [Harris Interactive survey].
Females (69%) were significantly more likely than males (63%) to report a decrease in driving as a result of higher gas prices [Harris Interactive survey].
The best part of this news, was not just the initial decrease in driving, but the fact that this is a sign that people have begun to change their driving habits for the long haul. Bryan Mistele, INRIX founder and CEO, commented on the survey's results by saying, “As a whole, the population appears to have made lasting changes to their behavior, which we expect to persist at some level even if gas prices revert to pre-2007 levels."