Though traffic congestion has been on the rise since January, vehicle miles driven in America are nowhere near their pre-recession levels.
In fact, according to a Frontier Group report, Americans drove about 6 percent fewer miles per year in 2011 than in 2004.
The report points to young Americans as top drivers of the trend, noting that the average annual number of miles 16- to 34-year-olds drove dropped 23 percent between 2001 and 2009.
According to Frontier Group, the trend of driving less is probably long-lasting.
The report attributes several factors to the decline of miles driven among young people, including:
- Availability of transportation alternatives (young people are walking, biking and taking public transportation more than they are driving)
- Different transportation priorities and preferences than older generations (Convenience and environmental impact play big roles here)
- Technological changes (Websites and social media make public transportation easier to use, and vice-versa)
- New driving laws (GDL laws make obtaining a driver’s license more challenging and place stricter rules on teenage drivers than in the past)
- Higher fuel prices (The annual cost of filling up a tank has increased by about $1,200 since 2001 and will likely increase another 26 percent by 2020)
For a more in-depth look at why young Americans are driving less, check out Frontier Group’s full report.