Moving Off the Road

A State-by-State Analysis of the National Decline in Driving

NCPIRG Education Fund


Thursday, August 29th, 2013      



Irene Cadwell, Field Organizer

NCPIRG Education Fund

Cell  720.402.9177

Email [email protected]


New Report Shows North Carolinians Are Driving Less


North Carolinians Driving Is Down 7.9 Percent, Ahead of National Trend



Raleigh – North Carolinians have cut their per-person driving miles by 7.9 percent since 2005, while the nation’s long term driving boom appears to have ended, according to a new report from the NCPIRG Education Fund.


“In North Carolina, driving miles are down, just as they are in almost every state – but more so in our state,” said Irene Cadwell, Field Organizer for the NCPIRG Education Fund. “It’s time for policy makers to wake up and realize the driving boom is over. We need to reconsider expensive highway expansions and focus on alternatives such as public transit and biking—which people increasingly use to get around.”


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 North Carolina, people have reduced their driving miles by 7.9 percent per person since 2005.
  • This decline in driving is a national trend. Forty-five other states have reduced per-person driving since the middle of the last decade.


  • 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.


  • 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.


 “This report underscores why we need to do a better job funding public transit here in North Carolina, said Meghan Leonard, sophomore at North Carolina State University.


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


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



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NCPIRG Education Fund works to protect consumers and promote good government. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public, and offer meaningful opportunities for civic participation. www.ncpirgedfund