Sunday, June 24, 2012

DOT: Vehicle Miles Driven decreased 0.4% in April

by Bill McBride on 6/24/2012 07:21:00 PM

The Department of Transportation (DOT) reported last week:

Travel on all roads and streets changed by -0.4% (-1.0 billion vehicle miles) for April 2012 as compared with April 2011. Travel for the month is estimated to be 247.2 billion vehicle miles.
The following graph shows the rolling 12 month total vehicle miles driven.

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 53 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 Gasoline prices peaked in April at close to $4.00 per gallon, and that was higher than the $3.85 per gallon drivers paid in April 2011 - so it makes sense that driving was off a little year-over-year.

Gasoline prices were down in May to an average of $3.79 per gallon according to the EIA. Last year, prices in May averaged $3.96 per gallon, so I'd expect miles driven to up year-over-year in May.

However gasoline prices is just part of the story. The lack of growth in miles driven over the last 4+ years is probably also due to the lingering effects of the great recession (high unemployment rate and lack of wage growth), and also the aging of the overall population. Census data shows that gasoline demand peaks around age 50, and then starts to decline - so many "baby boomers" are probably driving less now.

Yesterday:
Summary for Week ending June 22nd
Schedule for Week of June 24th