Driving

Average miles driven per year by Americans

Americans drive an average of 14,300 miles per year, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

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Driving is a central part of the American identity, and the amount of miles Americans drive each year has exploded in the time since the federal government founded the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s. In the past 40 years, the number of miles Americans collectively drive has increased from 1.5 trillion to 3.2 trillion miles: That’s more than twice as much driving with a population only 1.5 times as large. 

The average miles driven per year by Americans has now reached a total of 14,300 miles. That sum would cover almost three round trips between Los Angeles and New York. As a collective, American drivers cover 3.2 trillion miles each year, enough to take nearly 5,000 trips to the moon and back.

Using data from the Federal Highway Administration, we looked at American driving trends and found:

  • California posts the most total miles per year (340 billion), but Wyoming has the highest per capita mileage at 24,000 each year. 
  • Drivers in D.C., Rhode Island, New York, Washington and Alaska drive fewer miles per year than drivers in any other states.
  • Men drive around 6,000 miles per year more than women on average, and after retirement drivers post around 30 percent fewer miles per year. 
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, vehicle travel decreased by as much as 60 percent during the initial lockdowns in April 2020.

Since annual mileage is one factor that influences car insurance rates, we wanted to take a deep look at how much Americans drive each year. Read on to see all of our findings, or jump ahead to our infographic for an overview.

Average miles driven per year in each state

Americans drive a lot, but how much they drive depends a lot on the state where they live. For instance, while populous California accounts for 340 billion miles driven each year — more than any other state — the average driver only covers 12,500 miles annually, less than the nationwide average. On the other hand, Oklahoma posts just 44 billion miles each year (85 percent less than California), but each driver averages 17,700 miles, far more than the average American.

A variety of factors — like fuel costs and density — account for the vast differences between driving habits in each state. Whether you’re cruising around Rhode Island (9,900 miles per year on average) or sailing past Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico (19,100 miles per year on average), you are a part of a collective of drivers who cover more than 3 trillion miles annually in their cars. 

Below, we have a table with the most recent data from the Federal Highway Administration showing how many miles each state drives in total and per driver.

 

StateTotal MilesAverage Miles Per Driver
Alabama71 billion17,817
Alaska5.8 billion11,111
Arizona70 billion13,090
Arkansas37 billion17,224
California340 billion12,524
Colorado54 billion12,899
Connecticut31 billion12,117
Delaware10 billion12,609
District of Columbia3 billion7,013
Florida226 billion14,557
Georgia133 billion18,334
Hawaii11 billion11,688
Idaho18 billion14,417
Illinois107 billion12,581
Indiana82 billion18,024
Iowa33 billion14,745
Kansas31 billion14,781
Kentucky49 billion16,305
Louisiana51 billion14,951
Maine14 billion14,215
Maryland60 billion13,490
Massachusetts64 billion13,109
Michigan102 billion14,307
Minnesota60 billion17,909
Mississippi41 billion19,966
Missouri79 billion18,521
Montana12 billion15,880
Nebraska21 billion14,846
Nevada28 billion14,016
New Hampshire13 billion11,570
New Jersey78 billion12,263
New Mexico27 billion19,157
New York123 billion10,167
North Carolina122 billion16,073
North Dakota9 billion17,671
Ohio114 billion14,278
Oklahoma44 billion17,699
Oregon35 billion12,218
Pennsylvania102 billion11,445
Rhode Island7 billion9,961
South Carolina57 billion14,941
South Dakota9 billion15,541
Tennessee82 billion15,287
Texas288 billion16,172
Utah32 billion15,516
Vermont7 billion13,004
Virginia85 billion14,509
Washington62 billion10,949
West Virginia19 billion16,876
Wisconsin66 billion15,442
Wyoming10 billion24,069

 

While it’s interesting to see all of that driving data in one place, it’s even more compelling to look at trends that connect various states together. Read on to see a deep dive into the states where people drive the most and the least.

States where people drive the most and the least

Spread across 50 states and the District of Columbia, more than 228 million Americans have driver’s licenses. While the average American drives just over 14,000 miles a year, the true average varies quite a bit by state. In fact, the difference between the average driver in D.C. (7,000 miles per year) and Wyoming (24,000 miles per year) is 17,000 miles, enough for seven trips the entire length of the Mississippi River. 

Below, we’ve collected a list of the states where Americans drive the most and the least each year.

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A look at the places where Americans drive the most and the least reveals several interesting findings:
  • People in urban states tend to drive less: For example, drivers in New York, where more than half of the population lives in transit-friendly New York City, don’t need their automobiles as often.\
  • People in rural states drive much more: The state with the highest average miles annually, Wyoming, is only 0.2 percent urban, according to FHWA data. Other states like Alabama and North Dakota (both less than 5 percent urban) also have per capita mileage much higher than the nationwide average. 
  • The amount of roadway does not correlate with driving habits: While Kansas has the fifth-most lane miles in the country (286,000 miles of roadway), drivers there rank 25th in terms of average miles per year (14,700 miles). Meanwhile, Wyoming ranks 43rd in total lane miles (just 62,000 miles of roadway), but drivers there rank first in average miles driven annually (24,000 miles).

Many other factors affect the places that occupy the top and bottom of the chart of average miles driven per year by Americans.  

Alaska, for instance, has very few roads (just 36,000 lane miles), and some inter-city travel requires planes and boats. By contrast, the few urban areas in New Mexico are spread out (and connected by 150,000 miles of roadway), so drivers who travel between them rack up quite a few miles along the way. All of the practice for drivers in Wyoming has not eradicated their tendency toward dangerous driving, with the state ranking worst for drunk drivers.

The state where people live is not the only factor that affects how much they drive. Read on to learn how demographic factors — like age and gender — also influence average miles driven annually. 

How demographics affect average miles driven per year

Significant differences in driving behaviors exist among groups according to age and gender, according to the most recent available data from the FHWA. 

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Demographic effects play out in a number of ways when it comes to driving:
  • Women over 65 drive just 4,700 miles per year, compared to middle-aged men, who drive 18,800 miles each year
  • Across all age groups, men drive more than women, though this difference is most pronounced in working-age adults, where men drive 7,500 miles more each year than women.
  • Young drivers ages 16-19 drive the same number of miles on average as adults over 65 — around 7,600 miles a year. 

While most Americans depend on their cars for travel, how much they actually drive depends a lot on age and gender. That said, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has affected driving patterns for the country as a whole, with average miles down significantly. 

 

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If you personally have driven less miles in the past year, you might be able to save some money on your car insurance by using telematics with your insurance company. Telematics-powered auto insurance is a form of policy in which insurance companies rely on in-car tracking devices to monitor your driving habits and tendencies. These devices track your vehicle's speed, mileage, total driving time and other factors to help determine the policyholder's car insurance premiums. These usage-based insurance policies usually come with a mobile app to help you easily access real-time data relevant to your rate.

Compare your rates to telematic coverage.

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Taylor Covington
Taylor Covington LinkedIn

An in-house quantitative researcher for The Zebra, Taylor collects, organizes, and analyzes opinions and data to solve problems, explore issues, and predict trends. In her hometown of Austin, Texas, she can be found reading at Half Price Books or eating the world's greatest pizza at Via 313.