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Silver Lining? High Gas Prices Seem To Keep Cars Off Roads

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Kennedy Expressway Traffic

Traffic on the Kennedy Expressway on April 5, 2011. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – There are signs the gasoline price crisis may be making Chicago traffic jams a little easier to bear, CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.

Motorist Christian Wagner was bent over the pump at a Shell station at Van Buren and Morgan, trying to fill up at $4.39 a gallon.

“They only let you charge 80 bucks here and it doesn’t fill the tank,” he pointed out.

But the staggering cost of gasoline may, in another way, be making life a little easier for drivers. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Transportation show that when crude oil prices, and gasoline prices go up -– the number of miles driven each day, goes down.

Maybe that’s why so many drivers we talked with, think their commutes have been easier lately.

“I noticed that this morning, I flew in,” said Mike Rhodes. “I flew in to downtown. I thought it was maybe a holiday.”

Madison Street at Wells in the Loop, seemed strangely quiet during the afternoon rush hour.

And CBS2 drove the outbound Kennedy, headed for the airport at 40 miles an hour. The total traffic time, according to WBBM Newsradio 780 was 33 minutes.

Sgt. Juan Valenzuela of the Illinois State Police said, “I’ve noticed it too. The rush hours don’t seem to be the rush hours they used to be.”

Several commuters said they have switched to taking the CTA or Metra because it is simply too expensive to drive anymore.

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