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Americans Have Been Driving Fewer Miles Every Year

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In news that might sound surprising if you suffer a traffic-jammed daily commute, Justin Horner at ThinkProgress has pointed out that Americans have been driving less and less each year. You might think the economy tanking had something to do with it, but this trend actually started happening several years before it took the big hit.

Vehicle miles traveled per person in the U.S. plateaued in 2005, and began dramatically declining in 2008. In 2012, Americans drove an average of 700 miles less per year than in 2007.

Horner mentions a few possibilities for what could happen in the future. One is that miles traveled will start to increase once the economy picks up, another is that car ownership and personal travel budgets have hit their limit, and lastly, that vehicle miles traveled have hit their peak and we will begin to see a continuing decline over a number of years. Basically, it could go in any direction according to a number of factors – particularly the economy- but the current trend does suggest we can expect to see a continuing decline.

Have you found yourself or others driving less over the past several years? What do you think, besides the economy, could be the biggest factor?

Image CC licensed by Richard Masoner

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