Driving is an important part of the United States economy and a major influence on American culture. As citizens of one of the most mobile countries on the planet, Americans drive thousands of miles every year.
American Driving Habits
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the average American driver logs 13,476 miles each year. That's more than four times the distance from New York City to Los Angeles, California.
Although this number may seem high, it's actually only a snapshot of how Americans drive. To further understand United States driving habits, it helps to look at the miles driven by various groups of citizens.
Men vs. Women
American men drive considerably more miles than American women, according to the FHWA. The average man drives 16,550 miles per year, while the average woman drives 10,142 miles. This gender difference holds true across all age groups.
Older vs. Younger Drivers
Americans do the most driving during middle age and the least driving during retirement. Americans between 35 and 54 years of age drive 15,291 miles per year on average. Those over age 64 average only 7,646 miles annually.
Who Drives the Least?
Women over the age of 65 drive the least of any age group, averaging only 4,785 miles each year. This may be due to generational differences in male and female roles and the high rate of retirement in this demographic.
Who Drives the Most?
Of all Americans, men aged 35-54 drive the most miles. These drivers, possibly commuting to and from work, log 18,858 miles each year.
Teenage Driving Habits
The average American aged 16-19 years old drives 7,624 miles each year. Teenaged boys drive slightly more than teenage girls, with males logging 8,206 miles annually to females' 6,873 miles.
States with the Most Miles Driven Annually
The FHWA also keeps statistics about the miles driven by drivers in each state. According to the FHWA, these are the top five states for annual miles driven:
- Wyoming, where the average driver in this state drives 21,821 miles annually
- Georgia, where drivers travel 18,920 miles each year on average
- Oklahoma, where the average driver logs 18,8891 miles each year
- New Mexico, where the average miles per year per driver is 18,369
- Minnesota, where the average licensed resident drives 17,887 miles annually
States with the Fewest Miles Driven Annually
Whether they have to commute a shorter distance or have alternate methods of getting from place to place, drivers in certain states log fewer miles than others. Drivers in the following five states drive the least of all Americans:
- Alaska, where licensed residents drive only 9,915 miles each year on average
- Washington, DC, where drivers log an average of only 10,045 miles each year
- Hawaii, where licensed residents drive 11,104 miles each year
- Connecticut, where drivers travel only 11,595 miles annually
- Massachusetts, where the average miles per year per driver is 11,759
Do Families with Children Do More Driving?
According to the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership (STPP), mothers spend more time driving than non-mothers. STPP also reports that mothers make more trips in the car each day, likely to pick up and drop off kids from soccer games and other events.
Exactly How Many Miles Do Americans Drive Each Year?
The FHWA reports that in 2000, the last year with figures available, 190,650,023 United States citizens held drivers' licenses. Since the average driver logs 13,476 miles each year, that means that in total, Americans drive more than 2.5 trillion miles annually.
More About American Driving Habits
In recent years, several factors may have begun to influence the way Americans drive. Higher fuel prices, economic and environmental concerns, and employment challenges may result in significant changes to the automotive industry and driving statistics. To learn more about American driving habits, visit the Federal Highway Administration website.