As I may have mentioned before, I think some good will come out of higher gas prices.

For starters, it should drive people to drive less.

According to new Federal Highway Administration data, this is exactly what’s happening.

From November through April US drivers travelled 30 billion fewer miles than the same period a year earlier.

The environmental benefits of this should be obvious. But even if you don’t believe global warming is responsible for the recent midwest flooding, you can at least agree that fewer cars = cleaner air, less smog, etc.

At the very least, fewer cars on the road means less traffic congestion on your way into work.

The other thing higher gas prices should do is to spur development of alternative energy sources and – more importantly – more efficient machines that consume that energy.

This morning I read a really interesting piece by Atlantic writer Jonathan Rauch about the Chevy Volt – a 100% electric, plug-in “hybrid” that should – if they get the batteries working properly – be able to go 40 miles on a single charge.

The volt – unlike existing hybrids – would run entirely from the battery. It also includes a gas engine – but its purpose is simply to recharge the battery if necessary, not to operate the car.

While the presidential candidates argue about how to lower gas prices and whether or not we should be drilling for more oil, it’s nice to hear that someone – especially a big company like GM – is throwing away their standard playbook and working to find REAL solutions to our energy problems.