Whoa there! If America has developed a sudden aversion to driving, clearly all the commuters stuck in traffic haven’t heard the good news. Perhaps it is a bit of a stretch to suggest that “we” have collectively developed a sudden hatred of driving based solely on U.S. PIRG and Frontier Group’s recent study results.

While there are some that have a true love affair with life on the open road – most of us commute out of necessity. All things considered, there is really nothing phenomenal about the findings, or the end of the “Driving Boom” for that matter. A few things to consider:

Travel & Opportunity Cost

We do what we must to get where we need to go when it comes to driving. The decision making process is based on a combination of factors such as cost, time, and convenience. With federal inaction adding to record high gas prices, is it any wonder that vehicle miles traveled are down?


According to the cited study, young Americans are leading the charge by driving less than their predecessors, and apparently this is reason enough for our society to reconsider future transportation needs. Really?

Let’s not make any rash policy decisions based on a short-term decrease in per-capita driving. We’re talking about the same group that came of age during a severe economic downturn. So while such theories sound good while sipping a latte at Starbucks, the real answer to why they’re driving less: no jobs, no money, and no need.

While national unemployment rates have somewhat held steady, jobless rates for Millennials have continued to climb – hitting an alarming 13.1% in January 2013 according to Generation Opportunity, a national, non-partisan organization. With some sound economic policy and a little luck, they too can start making car payments.


While it is true that economic malaise and high prices has eased commutes in some corners across the country, the same cannot be said for areas boasting a booming work force and a growing economy. Take Dallas, Texas for example: a metro area with one of the largest populations in the country, and pro-growth economic policies. It is ranked among the 5 most congested cities in the nation, with commuters on average losing over 20 hours a year stuck in traffic. The unprecedented growth experienced by metro areas like Dallas will continue despite many attempts to lure workers back to urban living. Where business is booming there remains a need for increased investment in its roadways and infrastructure. Time is money.

There is no one size fits all solution to transportation funding, and suggesting that the framework ought to make a permanent shift toward alternative forms is a bit premature.