FHWA Reveals Americans Are Driving Less, What This Means

Jan 17, 2014 03:04 PM EST | Matt Mercuro

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Research conducted by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) revealed this week that fewer Americans drove less over the last decade than ever before.

For the first time since the introduction of the internal combustion engine, vehicle use rose slower than the U.S. population did, as reported by Reuters.

Fuel consumption is "unchanged" since 2002, whereas the U.S. population has increased by over 26 million people, or 9 percent, according to the study.

In 2012, American drivers purchases 172 billion gallons of diesel and gasoline, which is the same amount that was purchased in 2002.

The U.S. population rose from 288 million people to 314 million during the same time period.

Many factors have contributed to the lower number, including tougher fuel economy standards for light trucks and cars, and the use of biofuels.

Americans were driving vehicles fewer miles before the recession started, though patterns started to shirt around 2004, according to the study.

Once more drivers were hitting the road, pump and crude oil prices increase.

Total number of miles driving in the U.S. peaked around 3.031 trillion in2007, then fell during the recession, before stabilizing.

Rural road use is down over 13 percent since 2002.

The study also listed an "aging" population as a factor, since the number of work-related journeys decrease the older you get.

Online shopping and other Internet transactions could be reducing the amount of trips U.S. citizens take, but the official number has not been released yet.

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