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Groundbreaking New Study Measures Motorists' Driving Habits

The average American motorist drives 29.2 miles a day, according to a new survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Urban Institute.
The average American motorist drives 29.2 miles a day, according to a new survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Urban Institute. Photo Credit: File photo

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- We’ve always known we love our cars; now we know how much.

A groundbreaking study, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Urban Institute, has found that, on average, the typical American, age 16 or older, drives 29.2 miles per day, or 10,658 miles a year.

Motorists in the South drive the most (11,826 miles a year), while we in the Northeast drive the least (8,468 miles a year).

The daily calculation involves making two trips with a total duration of 46 minutes, the driving survey said.

The survey also found that:

  • Women take more driving trips, but men spend 25 percent more time behind the wheel and drive 35 percent more miles than women.
  • Both teenagers and seniors over the age of 75 drive less than any other age group; motorists 30-49 years old drive an average of 13,140 miles annually, more than any other age group.
  • The average distance and time spent driving increase in relation to education levels. A driver with a grade school or some high school education drives, on average, 19.9 miles and 32 minutes daily, while a college graduate drives, on average, 37.2 miles and 58 minutes.
  • Drivers who live in the country or a small town drive greater distances (12,264 miles a year) and spend a greater amount of time driving than people who live in a medium-sized town or city (9,709 miles a year).
  • Americans drive fewer miles on the weekend than on weekdays.
  • Americans drive an average 25.7 miles each day during winter months (January through March) and about 30.6 miles a day during the summer months (July through September).

According to Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the study “provides a look at when and how much Americans are driving.” Data was collected from May 2013 through May 2014.

Relevant federal data had last been released in 2009, and the previous set was released in 2001, too out of date, Kissinger said, to “draw conclusions about Americans’ current driving habits.”

“This new data, when combined with available crash data, will allow us to conduct unique, timely studies on crash rates for the first time,” he said.

This will allow the identification of specific problems and the evaluation of safety countermeasures “to a degree never before possible,” Kissinger added.

The foundation said survey results were based on telephone interviews with a nationwide sample of 3,319 drivers.

For the full results of the survey, visit www.AAAFoundation.org .

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