Are There Fewer Cars in DC?

New report says yes, but is it true?

A new report shows that fewer District of Columbia residents own vehicles, but is that really true?

The report, scheduled to be presented to the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board on Wednesday, found that vehicle registrations dropped 5.8 percent in the District between 2005 and 2008.

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Transportation Planning Director Ronald Kirby told the Examiner that the cause of the drop isn't clear.

Census figures show D.C.'s population grew by 1.7 percent during the period, but the report shows registrations fell from 258,100 vehicles to 243,200.

Meanwhile, registrations in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs of Washington increased: 3 percent in Maryland suburbs and 5.6 percent in Virginia suburbs.

So why the drop? Are there really fewer cars in D.C.? One possible theory: People just don't want to spend the money in this down economy to register their vehicles. Instead, they may want to take their chances on getting caught.

Sounds weird, but consider this: A recent study showed that one of every six drivers in the U.S. may not have insurance by 2010.

The Insurance Research Council's reasoning: "The recent economic downturn is expected to trigger a sharp rise in the uninsured motorist rate."

The IRC said that a 1 percent increase in the unemployment rate leads to an increase in the uninsured motorist rate of more than three-quarters of a percentage point. The Council said that, based on current unemployment rate projections, the percentage of uninsured motorists is expected to rise from 13.8 in 2007 to 16.1 in 2010.

So if people aren't even bothering to get insurance for their vehicles, do you really think they're going to register them?

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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