Monday, April 23, 2012

DOT: Vehicle Miles Driven increased 1.8% in February

by Bill McBride on 4/23/2012 01:50:00 PM

The Department of Transportation (DOT) reported:

Travel on all roads and streets changed by +1.8% (3.9 billion vehicle miles) for February 2012 as compared with February 2011. Travel for the month is estimated to be 216.1 billion vehicle miles..
The following graph shows the rolling 12 month total vehicle miles driven.

Even with the year-over-year increase in February, the rolling 12 month total is mostly moving sideways.

Vehicle Miles Click on graph for larger image.

In the early '80s, miles driven (rolling 12 months) stayed below the previous peak for 39 months.

Currently miles driven has been below the previous peak for 51 months - and still counting.

The second graph shows the year-over-year change from the same month in the previous year.

Vehicle Miles Driven YoY This is the third consecutive month with a year-over-year increase in miles driven - for the first time since 2010.

Even though gasoline prices are up sharply over the last few of months, prices also increased quickly last year in March and April - so we might not see a year-over-year decline in miles driven in the coming months.

The lack of growth in miles driven over the last 4+ years is probably due to a combination of factors: the great recession and the lingering effects, the high price of gasoline - and the aging of the overall population. HS Dent has a graph of gasoline demand by age (see page 13 of Age of Consumer demand curves based on Census Bureau data) (ht Doug Short) - so this is probably, at least partially, another impact from the aging of the baby boomers (ht Brian).

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