WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- U.S. motorists drove at least 100 billion fewer miles November 2007-October 2008 than in the same period a year earlier, U.S. transportation officials said.
"As driving decreases and vehicle fuel efficiency continues to improve, the long term viability of the Highway Trust Fund grows weaker," Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said Friday in a release. "The fact that the trend persists even as gas prices are dropping confirms that America's travel habits are fundamentally changing."
Because of the apparent shift in driving habits, Peters said way the nation's transportation network is funded also must change "because banking on the gas tax is no longer a sustainable option."
The Highway Trust Fund, the federal government's main source for financing highway, and bridge and transit projects, took in considerably less in fiscal year 2008 than in the previous year. The fund, financed primarily by federal gas tax receipts, collected $31 billion in revenue October 2007-September 2008, the department said, $3 billion less than it collected in fiscal year 2007.
"This underscores the need to change our policy so American infrastructure is less dependent on the amount of gas American drivers consume," Federal Highway Administrator Tom Madison said.