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Is This The End Of The Driving Boom In Texas?

Eileen Pace
TPR News

A new report shows new technologies are helping people reduce the number of miles they drive, which may be a hard sell to those who have to sit in traffic on IH-35 or Hwy. 281 every day.

The largest decrease in driving miles was found to be among Millennials -- the new driving generation that will dominate driving trends in the future.

Sara Smith, program director for the Texas Public Interest Research Group, said they compiled statistics from the Federal Highway Administration and found a reduction in miles traveled over the last decade.

"Since 2005 we’ve seen a 10 percent drop in the number of miles that people have traveled, and since the peak year in 1999 we’ve seen a 13 percent drop," Smith said.

The report indicates several possible reasons for the trend, including higher gas prices, telecommuting, and other technologies.

Smith said mobile apps, maps, and vehicle sharing services -- including a new app called Ride Scout that was created by an Austin entrepreneur -- are making it easier for people in urban areas to get along without a car.

"You press your location and then, in real time, all of your transit options show up on your screen," Smith said. " So if I were to walk outside my office right now and open up the Ride Scout app and press where I am, it will tell me, 'Oh, you have a Car2Go a block away, and there’s a cab coming up, and you can take the bus one block away.'"

Smith said the study does not separate urban area driving miles from rural data, but said the average driving miles have decreased throughout the state.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.