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Opinion

Look for less, not more, traffic in the future

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Transportation,Michael Barone

Look for less, not more, traffic in the future. That's the advice of University of Minnesota professor David Levinson. That would be a reversal of a trend that has lasted through most of the lifetimes of every living American.

But, as Levinson points out, miles driven has plateaued or fallen over the last decade, particularly since the Great Recession. More people are working short work weeks or are working at home, and more are shopping online rather than heading to the mall. These trends, Levinson predicts, will continue into the future. Driverless cars — assuming manufacturers will produce and sell them, which probably depends on whether they will be protected from tort liability — may accentuate the trend, or at least smooth out traffic and prevent traffic jams.

Levinson elaborates on his thesis in this extended interview with my American Enterprise Institute colleague Jim Pethokoukis. Read it and see if you agree -- and think about the consequences for transportation policy.

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Michael Barone

Senior Political Analyst
The Washington Examiner