As gas costs more, Americans continue to cut down on their driving. In May, the Federal Highway Administration says, traffic counts on all public roads in the United States were 3.7 percent -- or 9.6 billion vehicle miles -- lower than in May 2007.
That's the third-biggest monthly drop in the 66 years since the feds began keeping count.
It continues a seven-month decline. From November through May, Americans drove 40.5 billion fewer miles than during the same period a year earlier.
Driving fewer miles means buying fewer gallons of gas and diesel fuel, and that means state and federal governments are collecting less fuel tax money.
The state tax is 30.15 cents per gallon, the highest rate now allowed by state law. The feds collect 18.4 cents per gallon gas and 24.4 cents per gallon diesel.
Congress is trying to figure out ways to raise more money for road and bridge repair and expansion, and other transportation needs. The Bush administration opposes any increase in the federal gas tax.
“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,” Mary E. Peters, the US transportation secretary, said today in a press release. “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.”