A new study released by U.S. Public Interest Research Group shows that Americans continue to drive less.
The report says that since 2004 the number of miles per capita driven has dropped every year, which also means the end of the ‘driving boom’, when the number of miles traveled in vehicles increased by 2.5% annually. Beginning with 2004 until 2012 the number of miles traveled decreased by 1% annually. The main reasons for this decrease are the high unemployment level, the recession and the increased gasoline prices.
Another reason would be the fact that America becomes more urban, which translates in an increased use of mass transit. The study also shows that young people are less interested in driving and owning vehicles, compared with the previous generations. Between 2001 and 2009 the number of miles driven annually by motorists aged 16-34 dropped 23% from 10,300 miles per capita to 7,900.
Young people also get the driving license at a very low rate, with only 67% of 16- to 24-year-olds owning a license in 2011, the lowest level for this age group since 1963. Researchers believe that many young people these days prefer to own a computer or smartphone rather than a car. Two out of three college students said if they had to choose between owning a car and having Internet access they would choose the Internet connection.
“Over time, this is something where the auto industry is not going to be able to change these trends or change the larger arc of things by adding in more information technology on the dashboard,” said Phineas Baxandall, a co-author of the study. “More auto companies may want to think about investing in transit.”