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DOT: Vehicle Miles Driven increased 1.5% in September

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The Department of Transportation (DOT) reported:

? Travel on all roads and streets changed by 1.5% (3.7 billion vehicle miles) for September 2013 as compared with September 2012.

? Travel for the month is estimated to be 241.7 billion vehicle miles.

? Cumulative Travel for 2013 changed by 0.4% (9.8 billion vehicle miles).

The following graph shows the rolling 12 month total vehicle miles driven.

The rolling 12 month total is still mostly moving sideways but has started to increase a little recently.

Vehicle Miles Click on graph for larger image.

In the early ’80s, miles driven (rolling 12 months) stayed below the previous peak for 39 months.

Currently miles driven has been below the previous peak for 70 months – almost 6 years – and still counting.  Currently miles driven (rolling 12 months) are about 2.5% below the previous peak.

The second graph shows the year-over-year change from the same month in the previous year.

Vehicle Miles Driven YoYGasoline prices were down in September compared to September 2012. In September 2013, gasoline averaged of .60 per gallon according to the EIA. In 2012, prices in September averaged .91 per gallon.  (In 2012 there were refinery issues in September).

Gasoline prices were down sharply year-over-year in October, so I expect miles driven to be up in October too.  

As we’ve discussed, gasoline prices are just part of the story.  The lack of growth in miles driven over the last 6 years is probably also due to the lingering effects of the great recession (high unemployment rate and lack of wage growth), the aging of the overall population (over 55 drivers drive fewer miles) and changing driving habits of young drivers.

With all these factors, it might take a few more years before we see a new peak in miles driven. 
Calculated Risk

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