Friday, July 19, 2013

DOT: Vehicle Miles Driven increased 0.9% in May

by Bill McBride on 7/19/2013 03:44:00 PM

The Department of Transportation (DOT) reported:

Travel on all roads and streets changed by +0.9% (2.3 billion vehicle miles) for May 2013 as compared with May 2012. Travel for the month is estimated to be 262.1 billion vehicle miles.

The following graph shows the rolling 12 month total vehicle miles driven.

The rolling 12 month total is still 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 66 months - over 5 years - 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 down in May compared to May 2012. In May 2013, gasoline averaged of $3.67 per gallon according to the EIA. In 2012, prices in May averaged $3.79 per gallon. However gasoline prices were up year-over-year in June and especially in July of this year, so I expect miles driven to be down year-over-year in July.

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 might take several more years before we see a new peak in miles driven.