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N.C. drivers going thousands of fewer miles

The number of miles driven by North Carolinians dropped by several hundred thousand in March and April, compared to the same month a year before.

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Highway Traffic
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolinians drove more than 200,000 fewer miles in April 2008 than in the same month last year, according to the United States Department of Transportation.

March saw a steeper drop – drivers covered more 500,000 fewer miles of North Carolina roadways than in March 2007. That's a 6.3 percent decrease in March and 3.6 percent, in April.

Motorists drove about 8.36 million miles on North Carolina roads in both months.

“We’re burning less fuel as energy costs change driving patterns, steer people toward more fuel-efficient vehicles and encourage more to use transit," U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said.

Nationally, drivers have also gone fewer miles, dropping by 1.8 percent in April, compared to April 2007. On a national scale, that decrease equates to 20 billion fewer miles driven.

Motorists drove 1.4 billion fewer miles on national highways in April.

Americans have also started to change their car-buying habits, as well, according U.S. DOT officials.

In May, sales of mid-sized sport-utility vehicles were down 38 percent over May 2007. Car sales, meanwhile, have started grabbing up more of the market share. They accounted for under half of industry volume in 2007, but rose to 57 percent in May.

Peters said past trends shown Americans continuing to drive during high gas prices, but picking more fuel-efficient vehicles. She expressed concern that decreasing gasoline consumption would mean decreasing taxpayer funds for roads.

“History shows that we’re going to continue to see congested roads, while gas tax revenues decline even further,” she said.

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