Nationwide vehicle miles traveled on all roads and streets dropped an average of 5.5% in December 2000 compared with the previous year, according to the Federal Highway Administration's report on Traffic Volume Trends.
VMT also was lower for the entire year than it had been in 1999, dropping from 2,691,335 million miles to 2,688,312 million miles. Regionally, the December drop was 3.5% in the West, 9.2% North-Central, 5.9% in the South Gulf states, 5.2% in the Northeast and 3.3% in the South Atlantic states.
Though FHWA did not speculate on causes for the decline in the report itself, the Washington Letter on Transportation suggested the cause was "a general economic decline," noting lack of evidence of other potential causal factors such as weather or impacts of fuel price changes.
Declines in vehicle miles traveled have been rare in the past 30 years. Since 1970, there have been only two declines recorded in the month of December--in 1973 and '81. In the past three decades there have only been three full years with falling VMT compared with a previous year--1974, '79 and '80.