Young American Drivers Continue to Drive Less
May 15, 2013—Americans are driving less than they used to, thanks to higher gas prices, a weak economy and a change in generations, according to a new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.
According to the report, the average number of miles driven by Americans is expected to head into its eighth year of decline this year.
The study also said car use is likely to continue declining as the Millennial generation, those born between 1983 and 2000, moves into cities and relies more on public transportation, while baby boomers transition out of the phase in their life when they do the most commuting.
People aged 16–34 drove 23 percent fewer miles on average in 2009 than in 2001, according to the study.
During the driving boom of 1946 to 2004, total miles driven in the U.S. increased by an average 3.8 percent every year.
"The driving boom is over," said Phineas Baxandall, senior analyst at the U.S. PIRG and the study’s co-author. "The constant increases we saw in driving up until 2005 show no sign of returning. As more and more Millennials become adults, and their tendency to drive less becomes the norm, the reduction in driving will be even larger."
The decline was also reflected in vehicle ownership, which has fallen 4 percent since an all-time high of 1.24 vehicles per driver in 2006.
The study noted that young people are more likely to live closer to work, use alternative methods of transportation, and drive less when gas prices increase. The percentage of Americans with driver’s licenses fell to 86 percent in 2011, which was a 30-year low.