by Michael Sivak, Sivak Applied Research.
This analysis examines distances driven per vehicle in different vehicle classes in 2019 (the last year before the pandemic) and compares them with the corresponding values in 2009. The raw data were, for each vehicle class, the total vehicle distance traveled and the number of registered vehicles. All raw data came from the Federal Highway Administration.
The results are shown in the table below.
|Vehicle class||Miles per vehicle||Percent change from 2009 to 2019|
|Light-duty, short wheelbase||10,391||11,599||+12|
|Light-duty, long wheelbase||15,252||11,263||-26|
Noteworthy trends are as follows:
From 2009 to 2019, the average distance driven per light-duty, short-wheelbase (less than or equal to 121 inches) vehicle increased by 12% (from 10,391 miles to 11,599 miles). By comparison, the distance per light-duty, long-wheelbase vehicle decreased by 26% (from 15,252 miles to 11,263 miles).
In 2009, the average distance driven per light-duty, long-wheelbase vehicle was 47% greater than that per light-duty, short-wheelbase vehicle. By comparison, in 2019 the difference was only 3% (and the relationship was reversed).
During the same time period, the average distance driven per single-unit truck decreased by 15% (from 14,386 miles to 12,278 miles), and per combination truck it decreased by 7% (from 64,231 miles to 59,929 miles).
In 2019, the average distance driven per single-unit truck was comparable to the average distance driven per either short-wheelbase or long-wheelbase, light-duty vehicle.
In 2019, the average distance driven per combination truck was about 5 times the average distance driven per either short-wheelbase or long-wheelbase, light-duty vehicle.
Michael Sivak is the managing director of Sivak Applied Research and the former director of Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the University of Michigan.