Monday, February 22, 2016

DOT: Vehicle Miles Driven increased 4.2% year-over-year in December

by Bill McBride on 2/22/2016 12:51:00 PM

With lower gasoline prices, driving has really picked up!

The Department of Transportation (DOT) reported today:

Travel on all roads and streets changed by 4.2% (10.6 billion vehicle miles) for December 2015 as compared with December 2014.

Travel for the month is estimated to be 264.2 billion vehicle miles.

The seasonally adjusted vehicle miles traveled for December 2015 is 268.5 billion miles, a 4.0% (10.4 billion vehicle miles) increase over December 2014. It also represents a 1.4% change (3.7 billion vehicle miles) compared with November 2015.
The following graph shows the rolling 12 month total vehicle miles driven to remove the seasonal factors.

The rolling 12 month total is moving up - mostly due to lower gasoline prices - after moving sideways for several years.


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.

Miles driven (rolling 12) had been below the previous peak for 85 months - an all time record - before reaching a new high for miles driven in January.

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

Vehicle Miles Driven YoY In December 2015, gasoline averaged $2.14 per gallon according to the EIA.  That was down significantly from December 2014 when prices averaged $2.63 per gallon.  Gasoline prices have continued to decline, and vehicle miles will probably up sharply year-over-year in January.

Gasoline prices aren't the only factor - demographics are also important. However, with lower gasoline prices, miles driven on a rolling 12 month basis, is setting new highs each month.