You can't blame driving less on the U.S. economy anymore

You've heard it before and you'll hear it again: Americans are driving less.

We've heard it before and now we're hearing it again: People are driving less in the United States.

As the Associated Press reports the U.S. Federal Highway Administration released its latest driving statistics showing that total vehicle miles traveled in the United States is once again down over the first six months of the year -- a statistic that peaked in 2007 and has fallen ever since. And if you look at vehicle miles traveled per capita the trend of less driving has been going on for the past eight years.

What's different this time around? You can't blame the trend on a poor U.S. economy. According to the Associated Press:

Until the mid-1990s, driving levels largely tracked economic growth, according to Pickrell and Pace [U.S. Transportation Department economists], who said their conclusions are their own and not the government’s. Since then, the economy has grown more rapidly than auto use. Gross domestic product declined for a while during the recession but reversed course in 2009. Auto use has yet to recover.

That's even more clear today as we learned the U.S. economy grew 2.5 percent from April through June.

Emily Badger at The Atlantic Cities goes on to further debunk the idea that there's a strong connection between driving in the U.S. and economic health. Instead, she says, view the trend as "some messy mix of rising gas prices, changing demographics, new technology, a souring economy and the shifting preferences of Millennial drivers."

Read more: Associated Press, The Atlantic Cities

Photo: Flickr/AshtonPal

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