Sunday, December 23, 2012

DOT: Vehicle Miles Driven increased 0.3% in October

by Bill McBride on 12/23/2012 01:39:00 PM

The Department of Transportation (DOT) reported Friday:

Travel on all roads and streets changed by +0.3% (0.9 billion vehicle miles) for October 2012 as compared with October 2011. Travel for the month is estimated to be 251.5 billion vehicle miles.

Cumulative Travel for 2012 changed by +0.6% (14.9 billion vehicle miles). The Cumulative estimate for the year is 2,464.5 billion vehicle miles of travel.
Vehicle miles driven decreased in the Northeast (probably impacted by Hurricane Sandy) and increased in all other regions. The following graph shows the rolling 12 month total vehicle miles driven.

The rolling 12 month total is still 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 59 months - and still counting.

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

Vehicle Miles Driven YoYGasoline prices were up in October compared to October 2011. In October 2012, gasoline averaged of $3.81 per gallon according to the EIA. Last year, prices in October averaged $3.51 per gallon. 

However, as I've mentioned before, gasoline prices are just part of the story. The lack of growth in miles driven over the last 5 years is probably also due to the lingering effects of the great recession (high unemployment rate and lack of wage growth), the aging of the overall population (over 55 drivers drive fewer miles) and changing driving habits of young drivers.

With all these factors, it may be years before we see a new peak in miles driven.

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