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U.S. Driving Expected to Remain Below Peak in 2015

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Dec. 26, 2014—Though the miles traveled by all vehicle types on U.S. roads is expected to grow next year, it is still predicted to be below the nation’s peak totals from 2007, according to a report from Lang Marketing.

Though mileage data is only available through September 2014, Lang projects a .8 percent increase for the year, and anticipates continued slow growth into 2015.

Annual driving by all types of vehicles climbed 30 percent between 1988 and 1998, soaring from 2 trillion miles in 1988 to 2.6 trillion miles during 1998. This annual mileage increase was followed by an additional 400-billion-mile gain in annual driving between 1998 and 2007.

Yearly driving levels increased just over 1 trillion miles between 1998 and 2007, averaging 2.1 percent annual growth during this 20-year period. But mileage on U.S. roads peaked at 3.031 trillion miles in 2007 and was followed by three mileage declines over the next six years: 2008, 2009, and 2011.

Even with modest driving increases in 2012 and 2013, mileage declined at an average annual .3 percent pace from 2007 through 2013, racking up a reduction of 41 billion miles in that time.

The car and light truck population in the U.S. will likely increase less than 2 percent during 2015, a vehicle growth rate which by itself will not create strong mileage growth for the year. But bolstered by lower pump prices, Lang expects 2015 mileage growth to be stronger than any percentage gain recorded since 2004.

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