That's what AP business writer George Jahn reports, in a story printed in this morning's Chicago Tribune:
The Schork Report, edited by Stephen Schork, cited the latest statistics from the Federal Highway Administration, noting that "estimated vehicle miles traveled ... on all U.S. public roads for March 2008 fell 4.3 percent, or 11 billion miles, compared with March 2007.["]And prices have only gone up since then -- 40, 50, 60 cents a gallon in the Chicago area, at least.
So it's only logical that, as gas prices rise, auto use declines.
On the other hand, logic and teenagers are not even nodding acquaintances, certainly not in my house.
It would have been social suicide for Younger Daughter to take the bus to school, not as a senior. And, by driving her freshman brother, Younger Daughter could cruise the boys' school at least once a day.
Frequently, she'd come home -- driving who knows who who knows where en route -- only to receive a cell call (or text) from Youngest Son -- and off she'd go again, this time to pick him up at school. The boy-watching would be better in the afternoon anyway.
Americans drove eleven billion miles less in March 2008 than March 2007? I might have thought Younger Daughter, by herself, would have made up the difference.
My children firmly believe that their automobile use can not and must not be curtailed, even in the slightest, merely because of high prices. They expect their parents to bear any burden, hurtle any obstacle to keep them from having to take public transportation. Otherwise, they tell us, the terrorists win.
Youngest Son was supposed to take the bus home yesterday from Summer School. Long Suffering Spouse had one of our functioning autos at school; Middle Son had the other at his place of employment. But, happily for Youngest Son, Older Daughter has driven up from Champaign for a visit -- and she arrived in time to rescue him from this indignity.
So here's the bottom line: When some busybody do-gooder tells you that there's a silver lining in these obscene gasoline prices, that at least Americans are finally waking up and driving less and walking more or taking public transportation -- when such a person confronts you on the street, grab him roughly by the lapels and spin him around to face traffic... where he'll see teenagers whizzing by, blissfully unaware of record oil prices, chatting away merrily on their cell phones.