While being neck-deep in the current financial crisis and proposed bailouts flying left and right, Americans, still feeling the pressure of HIGH gas prices, continue to drive less.

For the 9th straight month American motorists have spent LESS time on the road. Reuters reports:

“The decline means Americans are consuming less fuel and emitting less CO2 (tailpipe emissions), which is a positive development,” Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said in an interview with Reuters. “But it is a challenge to how we fund transportation today.”

The miles traveled figure is an informal economic reference for policymakers who sought to make the best of another bad number by touting rising transit figures. The drop in driving heightened concerns about how to pay for road and rail projects, since those employment-creating priorities are financed mainly by gasoline taxes.

Peters, who expects the mileage figure to rebound once consumers lower their transportation costs by purchasing more fuel efficient vehicles, made her comments enroute to Richmond where she announced $30 million in federal grants to states to help finance more than 15 rail projects. Virginia received $2 million.

I’ve been driving less. I work at home MORE and think twice before taking a long drive. For most people the gas-gauge has been a humbling and reprioritizing experience.

We could learn a lot from billionaire Azim Premji, despite his fortunes, he still drives a four year-old Toyota Corolla and NOT a giant gas-guzzling SUV; via TreeHugger.