Are Americans Suddenly Driving Less?

driving-carIt’s not that people are “suddenly” driving less, but there has been a decline over the past decade. The strange thing is the cause isn’t what you might expect. You might also be surprised to learn that the attitude people have towards driving and car ownership is changing as well. In fact, only people in their late 30s to late 50s seem to have the same attitude about transportation that they once did. The following looks at why Americans are driving less.

Why Are People Driving Less?

You might immediately think that the recession is to blame for people driving less, but people started driving less before the financial crisis. Others may blame gas prices, but even when the gas prices dropped in the mid to late 2000s, people still continued to drive less. One thing that seems to be behind people driving less is that young adults are less interested in owning a vehicle. Drivers the age of 16 to 34 dropped 23% from 2001 to 2009. During the same time period, 1.1 million seniors gave up their driver’s licenses. It’s also important to note that some young adults don’t have the funds to buy a car, which has led them to use carpooling and car-sharing services.

Is Everyone Driving Less?

While younger people and older people seem to be driving less, there’s no data that says people in between these two ages groups are driving less. We also need to account for those that have no choice but to drive. Those that live in rural areas still need to drive in order to make it to work and run errands. Still, with the large number of people turning over their car keys, Americans really are driving less.

What Should Cities Focus on for the Future?

Now that fewer people in large cities are driving, cities need to focus on the different transportation needs of their citizens. This means more bike lanes, more bus routes, safer roads for pedestrians, etc. This will mean investing more money in these areas, but in some of these areas, cities will see the money come back to them quickly. In some areas, bus and bike lanes may soon begin to outnumber car lanes.

Why Americans have started driving less really doesn’t matter. These people are doing a wonderful thing for our environment. While everyone doesn’t have this option, those that do seem to be taking advantage of it. Whether it’s because young people don’t have the interest in owning a car or people have decided to stop driving in their senior years, Americans as a whole are driving less.

This article was published on behalf of Kim McCormick who has two teens and in her household it doesn’t feel like anyone is driving less than before. She has a third teen getting ready to learn to drive; find out more about the learning tools she gives them here.

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