Peak Driving Record Shattered

So long 2007. Hello 2014. According to new DOT data, peak driving is no longer in the rear view mirror but ahead of us thanks to cheap gas getting even cheaper, the rebound effect, an improved economy, and warmer weather.
January 25, 2015, 7am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"The U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) said Tuesday (Jan. 20) that Americans drove 241 billion miles in November — up 1.1 percent over November 2013," writes David Shepardson of The Detroit News. Through the first 11 months, travel is up 1.4 percent, or 38.2 billion miles, to 2.76 billion miles."
Drivers are on pace to top 3 trillion miles for the first time since 2007 — when drivers logged 3.031 trillion miles, the most in history — and just one of two years in which driving topped 3 trillion miles. As drivers buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, they also opt to drive more as the price per mile declines. [Rebound effect]
Driving increased in November everywhere but the Midwest and Northeast. Interestingly, earlier we noted that both regions "are losing decidedly more migrants than in recent years (to the Snowbelt)" .
While many recent Planetizen posts are along the lines that "Peak Driving is Here to Stay," i.e., vehicle miles traveled will not be increasing (see additional posts below under 'related'), there was one notable exception in September: FHWA had reported increased "driving between July 2013 and June 2014 is at levels not seen since 2008." As we noted then, the November DOT figures are not per capita or per vehicle based, nor were they in 2007.

Shepardson reminds readers of the plummeting gas prices, suggesting that they may be at the root of Americans returning to the highways.

In more than half of U.S. states, gas prices have fallen below $2 a gallon and are down 40 percent since June to the lowest level in more than five years. [Average price of $2.066 as of Jan. 19 according to EIA]

Hat tip to Mike Keenly.

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Published on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 in The Detroit News
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