Peak auto? Driving might have passed generational peak in the U.S.

Source: Vehicle Miles Driven: Population-Adjusted Hits a New Post-Crisis Low

The latest statistics coming out of the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Commission shows a small decrease in travel on all roads and streets in June compared to the same period last year.

Total miles driven, unadjusted for population growth

Looking at the above chart, the total miles driven looks pretty flat to slightly down. However, once adjusted for population growth during the same period, a very different picture emerges. Per capita total miles driven adjusted for population has returned to a level last seen in 1995 after reaching a peak in 2005.

Contributing factors to this trend include:

  • the “New Normal” rolling recessions that don’t seem to go away. If you don’t work, there are fewer reasons to drive.
  • high gas prices despite stagnant wages.
  • aging population. People naturally drive less as they grow older.
  • the attitudes of the Gen X/Y population towards driving in general. Gen X/Y’ers much prefer to live inside cities where they can walk, bike or take transit to living in the suburbs where they grew up.

total miles driven, population adjusted

This trend has far reaching impacts on our society in terms of how we plan for our cities and infrastructure.

 

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