When gas prices spiked in April, Americans reacted in a logical, yet surprising way: They drove less. It's a sign, writes Charles Lane of the Washington Post, that America's love affair with the car is on the rocks. Getting a license, for instance, isn't the "rite of passage" it used to be; only 28.7% of 16-year-olds got their licenses in 2010, down from 44.7% in 1988. Lane blames cell phones, which make "it easier for youngsters to stay in touch without actually, er, touching."
It's not just teens; all Americans are driving less. Vehicle miles traveled per capita have been leveling off since 2000, after decades of growth driven by women entering the workforce and a growing black middle class, trends that have widely petered out. "America’s love affair with the car may never end," Lane concludes. "But it does seem to be cooling down; it’s more like a stable marriage than a red-hot romance." But married life isn't so bad. If the trend holds, it can only be good for the environment, and for oil prices. Click for Lane's full column. (Read more gas prices stories.)