Nate Silver: Is American Car Culture on the Skids?

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Nate Silver, the stat-mining fortune teller behind FiveThirtyEight.com, has written a piece for Esquire suggesting that Americans may be weaning themselves off their collective auto addiction. Falling gas prices aside, driving has been on the decline since late 2007, Silver notes. Taking factors like population and unemployment into account, he wonders:

Could it be that there's been some sort of paradigm shift in Americans' attitudes toward their cars? Perhaps, given the exorbitant gas prices of last summer, Americans realized that they weren't quite as dependent on their vehicles as they once thought they were.

Silver also points out that between 2004 and 2008, cities that took the biggest hit in home prices, like Las Vegas and Detroit, were "highly car-dependent," while Portland, Oregon had the largest gains.