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Sunday, July 22, 2012

DOT: Vehicle Miles Driven increased 2.3% in May

by Calculated Risk on 7/22/2012 03:03:00 PM

The Department of Transportation (DOT) reported on Friday:

Travel on all roads and streets changed by +2.3% (5.7 billion vehicle miles) for May 2012 as compared with May 2011. Travel for the month is estimated to be 258.4 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 54 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 then started falling.

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 it makes sense that miles driven are up year-over-year in May.

However, as I've mentioned before, 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), the aging of the overall population (over 50 drivers drive fewer miles) and changing driving habits of young drivers.

A new report suggests that driving preferences are changing for younger drivers:
From 2001 to 2009, the average annual number of vehicle miles traveled by young people (16 to 34-year-olds) decreased from 10,300 miles to 7,900 miles per capita—a drop of 23 percent.
With all these factors, it may be years before we see a new peak in miles driven.

Summary for Week Ending July 20th
Schedule for Week of July 22nd