How Much Do Americans Drive? (Infographic)

Last modified: September 24, 2020

Discover how many miles Americans cover annually, which states have the most active drivers, and how US citizens compare to the rest of the world.

Did you know that the average miles driven per year by drivers in the US are at an all-time high?

Research shows Americans drive 13,474 miles per year — equivalent to more than four roundtrip drives from New York to Dallas.

While driving has always been the primary mode of transportation, Americans today rely on their private vehicles more than ever. That said, the enthusiasm for driving is not shared equally between genders and across age groups.

Let’s look under the hood to find out who’s driving, how much, and where.

Average Miles Driven per Year — Quick Overview

  • Across all age groups, 84.6% of Americans have a driver’s license.
  • Americans drive 13,474 miles per year on average.
  • American males drive 16,550 miles per year, compared to the female average of just 10,412.
  • 1.35 million people lost their lives and up to 50 million suffer injuries every year in road accidents worldwide.
  • Speed-related crashes cost Americans $40.4 billion each year.

Average Mileage per Year in the US

Have you ever wondered how the annual mileage has changed over the years? Or how many licensed drivers are there in the US? Or what percentage of the US population owns a driver’s license?

Well, here are the answers to these questions and more.

1) The number of miles driven by Americans is rising consistently since 2015.

Americans are now driving more miles per year than ever. In case you are wondering “how many miles does the average person drive a year?”, the answer is 13,474.

However, Americans have not always been so mobile. The number of miles driven topped off around 10,120 in 2004 after rising consistently for almost 60 years. After 2004, the number of driving miles started to decline in almost every state. Americans rediscovered their passion for driving in 2015, putting a record 3.15 trillion miles on their vehicles that year. Since then, the average miles per year on a car has been rising consistently.

2) There were over 225 million licensed drivers in the US in 2017; the number of registered drivers in the US increased by 3.6% every year.

The number of licensed drivers in 2017 was more than 225 million, an increase of roughly 4 million over 2016. At around 26.8 million, California issued the maximum number of licenses, followed by Texas (17.1 million), and Florida (15.1 million).

3) American teens, however, are getting fewer licenses and are driving less.

The average miles driven per year by teenagers is the lowest across all age groups. What’s more, research also shows that while the total number of licensed drivers in the US is rising consistently, the number of 16-year-old drivers is at its all-time lowest. According to the latest available data, there were just 1.08 million drivers aged 16 years or less in 2014, compared to 1.59 million of such drivers in 2007.

4) Drivers older than 85 years are the fastest-growing demographic group.

While teenagers as a group seem to have put the breaks on their average miles per year, more grandpas and grandmas are hitting the open road than ever. Research shows drivers over 85 have nearly doubled from 1.76 million in 1998 to 3.4 million in 2013.

5) 84.6% of Americans have a driver’s license

Across all age groups, 84.6% of Americans possess a driver’s license. The age bracket with the highest number of drivers by percentage is 50 to 69. Roughly 92% of people in this age group own a driver’s license.

Annual Mileage by Age

Arguably, young people have more free time on their hands, and as such should be clocking more miles than other age groups. But is that the case? Let’s find out.

6) Middle-age drivers log the most miles.

Surprise, surprise, it’s the middle-aged individuals, not the young people, who log the most miles. Research reveals that people between 35 and 55 years of age drive an average of 15,291 miles per year.

7) Teens have the lowest average annual car mileage.

Once a rite of passage, driving is perhaps proving to be too costly for today’s teens. Or maybe they are not as interested in driving as their elders. Whatever the reason, research shows people aged between 16 and 19 years have the lowest annual mileage across all age groups — only 7,624 miles.

8) People between 20 and 34 years of age have the second-highest annual mileage.

The average annual mileage driven for this age group is 15,098. That’s just about a percentage less than the age group with the highest annual mileage.

9) People between 55 and 64 years of age put in 11.972 miles behind the wheel each year.

People in the 55–64 age group have the third-highest annual mileage on average in the US.

10) Over-65s are putting 7,646 miles on their cars per year on average.

Research shows that people over 65 are hitting the road more often than the previous generations of seniors. Arguably, this is because Americans are living longer — and perhaps healthier — than their grandparents. Or maybe the growing physical distance between families is the real reason behind their logging more miles per year. Whatever the case, one thing is certain: Americans like it behind the wheel, even in their golden years.

Average Miles Driven in a Year by State

Americans are driving more than ever, but this uptick is not spread evenly among the states. Some states have significantly higher vehicle miles driven per licensed driver than others.

11) Wyoming has the highest miles driven per licensed driver in a year, whereas Alaska has the lowest.

Wyoming’s average is more than two times that of Alaska’s. The residents of Wyoming have an average annual mileage of 21,821, whereas Alaskans log in just 9,915 miles. Perhaps snow-covered roads are partly the reason why Alaska’s annual mileage is the lowest in the US.

12) Georgia comes second in the list of states with most miles driver per year, followed by Oklahoma.

Georgia earns the second spot with an average of 18,920 miles per driver while Oklahoma is a close third at 18,891 miles. Not unsurprisingly, densely populated states such as New York, California, and Florida have below-average miles per year; New York 11,871 miles; California 14,435 miles; and Florida 11,836.

13) Massachusetts is the safest US state for drivers, and North Dakota the most dangerous.

Car accident statistics reveal that Massachusetts is the best state to drive in with only 0.048 fatalities per 1000 drivers. On the other hand, at 0.256 deaths per 1000 drivers, North Dakota is the worst state for drivers.

14) Hells Canyon Road, Idaho, is the best place to drive in the US.

If there’s one drive you wouldn’t want to miss out in your life, this is it. This 22-mile long road features breathtaking mountains, canyons, and rural towns.

15) Norfolk, Virginia, is the worst place to drive in the US.

Whether you’re an experienced driver with high average miles driven per month or a raw beginner, there’s one place you might not want to drive in — Norfolk. A combination of bad traffic, high incident rate, and a high crime rate make it an unfavorable place for drivers.

What’s more, if you love being behind the wheel, you might want to move to Raleigh, North Carolina. An independent survey judged it the best city for driving, based on its superlative performance on important parameters, such as the cost of car ownership, traffic and infrastructure, access to vehicles, and safety.

Miles Driven in America vs. The World

16) Americans have a higher average yearly mileage than anyone else in the world.

Americans drive 13,476 miles per year on average, which is nearly 30% more than Canadians, who are second on the list at 9,562. Other car-dependent countries include Australia (8,555), Italy (8,256), and France (7,424).

17) The US is ranked 25th in the world by the number of cars per person.

American loves cars. As the previous stats show their average car mileage is significantly higher than that of the rest of the world. Yet, Americans own fewer cars per person than almost all other developed countries. With 439 cars for every 1000 people, the US is ranked 25th in the world by the number of passenger cars per capita, behind the UK, France, Germany, and even crisis-wracked Greece.

18) The minimum driving age in some US states, such as Montana and Idaho, is as low as 16 years.

In the US, the minimum driving age is set on a state level. Some states like Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, and South Dakota allow 16-year-olds to drive. That said, US teens’ average car mileage per year is not very high. In fact, with 7,624 miles per year, American teenagers drive much less than other age groups. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that most US states require you to be either 17 or 18 years to obtain a driver’s license. As far as the rest of the world is concerned, 78% of countries have set 18 years as the minimum driving age.

Average Miles per Year by Gender

Even though many think American women spend just as much time behind the wheel as men do, that’s not the case. Research conclusively proves that when it comes to driving, men are in the lead.

19) Men spend 19% more time behind the wheel than women.

There you have it. American men are taking the wheel much more often than women.

20) Men put in 63% more miles per year than women in the US.

Not only are American men spending more of their time driving, but they are also driving a lot more (than women). If you are wondering, “how many miles in a year does an average American male log in?”, the answer is 16,550 miles. Women, on the other hand, drive just 10,142 miles per year. Combined with the previous stat, this also implies that men are driving much faster compared to women.

21) Yet men don’t pay more for car insurance than women.

Men drive more miles than women on average. Given this fact, they should be paying more for car insurance — right? However, research shows that the rates are similar for both. While men pay $735 for a 6-month policy on average, women shell out $740.

Annual Mileage and Road Safety

Road safety statistics reveal that 40,000 Americans lost their lives to car crashes in 2018. If you find this stat disturbing, you might want to keep the following important facts in mind when you hit the open road next time.

22) 22% of vehicular crashes in the US are weather-related.

Out of the 6 million vehicular accidents that occur in the US every year, just over 1.2 million (or about 22%) involve hazardous weather. So take the cue and resist the urge to take your car out in bad weather.

23) Speeding statistics reveal that speeding killed 9,717 people in 2017.

Speeding accounted for 26% of all traffic-related deaths in 2017. Need we say more as to why each of us must respect the speed limits?

24) Alcohol-impaired driving accounts for nearly 10,950 deaths per year.

To put this into perspective, nearly 30 people lose their lives every day — one every 30 minutes almost — due to drunk driving.

25) Alcohol-impaired driving crashes account for 15% of pedestrian deaths per year.

Drunk driving, like speeding, not only puts the life of the guilty party at risk but also endangers the lives of everyone else on that road.

26) 95% of vehicular crashes are caused by human error.

Experts say that simple things such as wearing a seat belt, paying attention to the road, or respecting the speed limit can significantly lower the risk of a road accident. However, research shows that the majority of drivers involved in mishaps neglect to do these very things.

Conclusion

Are you driving more in 2019 compared to last year? For most Americans, regardless of their gender, age, and location, the answer is an unambiguous “yes.”

As a result, higher average miles driven per year rates push up the cost of car insurance; the more you drive, the greater your chances of being in an accident.

However, the opposite is also true. You can save on high-quality car insurance by driving fewer miles. Most auto insurers offer low mileage discounts, ranging from 5 to 15%, for driving not more than the predefined limit; typically 10,000 or 7,500 miles.

You can also lower your insurance cost by following top road safety features. And that, you will surely agree, is priceless.