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Millennials Lead Change in Transportation Trends

A report released by the WISPRIG Foundation shows that the average number of miles driven by Americans is in its eighth year of decline. The report, "A New Direction: Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America’s Future" attributes the steady decline to the Millennial generation's driving-averse attitude.

“The 'Driving Boom' is over,” said Bruce Speight, WISPIRG Foundation Director. “The constant increases we saw in driving up until 2005 show no sign of returning. As more and more Millennials become adults, and their tendency to drive less becomes the norm, the reduction in driving will be even larger.”

To put the "Driving Boom" into perspective, Americans drove more miles nearly every year between the end of World War II and 2004. By the end of this period of rapid increases in per-capita driving, the average American was driving 85 percent more miles each year than in 1970. Now, however, Americans between the ages of 16 and 34 drove 23 percent fewer miles on average in 2009 than in 2001.

The change in driving trends could have many implications for Americans’ travel life, including:

  • Coupled with improvements in fuel efficiency, reduced driving means Americans will use about half as much gasoline and other fuels in 2040 than they use today.
  • Traffic congestion will be less of a problem.
  • Toll roads will be less financially viable.
  • Forms of travel that are expanding in use, like public transit, will be a better investment.

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