by Michael Sivak.
This article is the latest in a series that examines recent changes in various aspects of road transportation in the United States. The focus here is on distance driven per person as opposed to total distance driven (which depends, in part, on the continuously increasing size of the U.S. population). (Earlier post.) The period covered is 1984 through 2018.
The calculations used the total distances driven by all light-duty vehicles (cars and light trucks) from the Federal Highway Administration and the resident populations from ProQuest. (Several of the latter values were recently updated.) The chart below shows the results.
The main findings concerning distance driven per person (summarized in the table below) are as follows:
An increase of 40.9% from 1984 to 2004 (from 6,612 miles to 9,314 miles).
A decrease of 9.0% from 2004 to 2013 (from 9,314 miles to 8,472 miles).
An increase of 4.5% from 2013 to 2018 (from 8,472 miles to 8,855 miles).
Distance driven per person reached its maximum in 2004.
This rate is on a rebound since 2013, but it is still down by 4.9% from 2004.
Michael Sivak is the managing director of Sivak Applied Research and the former director of Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the University of Michigan.