Colorado Sees Double Digit Drop in Driving

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Down 11.4% Since 2005, 6th Largest Drop in Country

CoPIRG Foundation

Denver – Coloradans have cut their per-person driving miles by 11.4 percent since 2005, while the nation’s long term driving boom appears to have ended, according to a new report from the CoPIRG Foundation.  Colorado had the 6th largest drop of state and now ranks 14th for fewest vehicle miles traveled per person. 

“In Colorado, driving miles are down, just as they are in almost every state – only a lot more,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG Foundation Director. “And when you compare Colorado to other states, you see this trend is about more than the recent recession. Economic recovery will not mean a return to the days of the driving boom.”

The report, “Moving Off the Road: A State-by-State Analysis of the National Decline in Driving,” is based on the most current available government data. Among its findings:

  • In Colorado, people have reduced their driving miles by 11.4 percent per person since the peak year of 2005. Colorado is 14th for fewest vehicle miles traveled per person.
  • This decline in driving is a national trend. Forty-five other states have reduced per-person driving since the middle of the last decade.
  • The states with the biggest reductions in driving miles generally were not the states hit hardest by the economic downturn. The majority—almost three-quarters—of the states where per-person driving miles declined more quickly than the national average actually saw smaller increases in unemployment compared to the rest of the nation. 
  • States with higher percentages of their population living in urban areas have less VMT per capita than states with higher percentages in rural areas. Colorado has the 14th highest percent of its population living in urban areas of the 50 states at 86.15%
  • States with higher median incomes average fewer driving miles. Colorado has the 11th highest of the 50 states. 

After World War II, the nation’s driving miles increased steadily almost every year, creating a “driving boom.” Driven by the growth of the suburbs, low gas prices, and increased auto ownership, the boom lasted 60 years. Now, in stark contrast, the average number of miles driven by Americans is in its eight consecutive year of decline, led by declines among Millennials.

“Given these trends, we need to press the reset button on our transportation policy,” said Katz. “Just because past transportation investments overwhelmingly went to highway construction, doesn’t mean that continues to be the right choice for Colorado’s future.”

Download the report, “Moving Off the Road: A State-by-State Analysis on the National Decline in Driving.”