Statement on New Federal Driving Data for 2014


Statement by Phineas Baxandall, Senior Analyst and Transportation Program Director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, about the Federal Highway Administration’s release today of data showing an increase in the total number of vehicle miles travelled for 2014.

 “The volume of driving fluctuates. It would have been surprising not to see some uptick in driving given the confluence of temporary factors in 2014. This past year saw big increases in employment and a precipitous dip in gasoline prices, yet the rate of increase in driving was still smaller than the normal increases for six decades before 2005. The total volume of driving in 2014 still fell below 2007 levels, even despite the nation’s larger population.

“Technological and demographic factors, plus urbanization and the preferences of an emerging Millennial generation all suggest that increases in driving will be slower than in past generations. The volume of driving could be even lower if public policies in coming years give Americans more choices about whether or not to drive. We hope that this past year’s data does not distract public leaders from the profound changes underway in transportation.”

You can read a series of U.S. PIRG reports about the causes and consequences of changing driving behavior and the importance of official travel forecasts for policy choices here.

You can view a graphic showing how FHWA forecasts of future driving volume have changed over time and how they have compared to actual driving here.