Driving is part of the American way of life. All told, we own more than 246 million road vehicles—nearly one vehicle for every person in the country—and we travel an average of 13,000 miles per drive each year. Virtually all of these vehicles are powered by petroleum-based fuel. As other countries adopt our lifestyle of freedom and mobility, the demand for oil increases.
Sixty-two percent of all the oil consumed in the United States is imported. Dependence on unstable areas of the world for some of our petroleum supplies could become increasingly risky and result in economically disruptive oil price shocks and constrain our ability to respond appropriately to national security concerns.
Transportation can be a component of another element of the nation’s long-term security: decreasing the country’s dependence on foreign oil. Transportation investments that reduce congestion can help reduce fuel consumption and vehicle emissions. Continued improvements in vehicle fuel economy, further development of alternative fuels/vehicles, and ensuring viable transportation options are available will also play an important role.
Going forward, what policies should be considered to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, protect and improve the global climate, and lead our nation toward a more secure energy future? No single solution, technology or approach will serve as a “silver bullet” to our energy problems. It is going to take a comprehensive portfolio of policies, new ideas and new technologies to meet our energy goals. Americans may even be asked to adjust their lifestyles and make personal sacrifices. In the end, a well-informed, forward-thinking energy policy will lead the United States to a cleaner, safer and more stable future.
From carpooling and riding bicycles to taking trains and utilizing other transportation options, motorists across the country are finding creative and alternative ways to meet personal mobility needs. A variety of transportation modes and commuting initiatives offers choices to meet individual travel needs and helps ensure a healthier environment.
In the last 15 years, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of companies offering and employees engaging in a wide range of telecommuting options. Telecommuting includes working from remote locations, satellite offices and homes using computers, telephones, fax machines and other technology to avoid traveling to an office. Along with helping conserve energy and reduce traffic congestion and emissions, telecommuting helps people maintain a balance between work and family responsibilities. All federal agencies are required to identify positions that are appropriate for telecommuting and offer opportunities for employees to use the practice. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management is a good resource for learning more about telecommuting guidelines.
Carpooling/ride-sharing allows people to travel together to a destination in one vehicle. Carpool projects have been around in some form since the mid-1970s. While many carpools originate through word of mouth, recent advances in technology and public familiarity with the Internet have led to more formal carpooling opportunities and services.
Carpooling provides a variety of individual and public benefits by reducing fuel usage, parking expenses, pollution and congestion. Some areas have special facilities for carpoolers, including designated pickup points and high-occupancy vehicle lanes. Check with your community, employer or friends about carpooling options in your area.
Public transportation is an essential part of a balanced transportation system. Including use of buses, trains, and highways. In 2008, transit systems carried passengers on 10.5 billion trips for a total of 55.1 billion passenger miles. It is a system that consists of more than 140,000 vehicles traveling more than 48 billion passenger miles and collecting more than $11 billion in passenger fares. In the last 10 years, the transit industry has grown by more than 36 percent – three times U.S. population growth rate and faster than either highway or air travel.