A new study by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group indicates Americans are driving less than they were a few years ago. That drop is largely thanks to young people. Those between the ages of 16 and 34 drove 23 percent fewer miles in 2009 than they did in 2001. While it's tempting to attribute the decline to the recession, the study suggests the decline may continue even after the economy picks up pace. Factors like steeper fuel prices, more readily available public transportation and a shift in priorities are likely to continue to allow young drivers to cut down on their time behind the wheel.
The study cites one poll that found a full 45 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34 have moved to replace driving with other modes of transportation. By comparison, only 32 percent of older drivers have done the same.
Is this bad news? Not from our point of view. Our aging highway infrastructure is constantly struggling to keep pace with the volume of cars on the road. With more drivers opting for alternative transportation, there's bound to be less traffic and more room for those of us who actually prefer driving. Throw in decreased demand for gasoline, and we may even see fuel prices stay manageable in the near future. All hail the new generation.