High Gas Prices Change Miles Driven . . . A Lot

By Matt Ellinwood, November 21, 2008

The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) published their quarterly industry indicators this week, and there was a lot of interesting and very depressing news, but the following graphic (source: AAIA) describing the recent relationship between gas prices at the pump and the total miles driven by American, month over month, is astounding!

The precipitous drop in miles driven is profound, and though it looks as though when gas hits 4 or more dollars a gallon, driver behavior changes, my guess is that there is more going on.  The  relationship may be between how quickly prices go up and the change to miles driven.  The more sharp the spike in prices, the more sizable the response from consumers, whereas a gradual increase in prices doesn't spark a similar downward trend.

The next version of this report will be fascinating, as over the last month we've seen an unprecedented collapse in oil prices that have been passed to the pump.  Yesterday, I paid $2.19 a gallon in Oakland, CA--not a month and half after paying $4.85.

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