In Depth Analysis: CalculatedRisk Newsletter on Real Estate (Ad Free) Read it here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

DOT: Vehicle Miles Driven increased 1.6% in July

by Calculated Risk on 9/23/2013 01:37:00 PM

The Department of Transportation (DOT) reported:

◦ Travel on all roads and streets changed by 1.6% (4.2 billion vehicle miles) for July 2013 as compared with July 2012

◦ Travel for the month is estimated to be 263.6 billion vehicle miles.

◦ Cumulative Travel for 2013 changed by 0.2% (2.7 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 68 months - over 5 1/2 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 up in July compared to July 2012. In July 2013, gasoline averaged of $3.66 per gallon according to the EIA. In 2012, prices in July averaged $3.50 per gallon.  Even with higher gasoline prices, vehicle miles were up in July.

Gasoline prices were down year-over-year in August, so I expect miles driven to be up in August too.  

As we've discussed, 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.