Driving Boom Is Over, Study Says


  • Driving Future Study Picture

    Driving Future Study Picture

    Millennials aren't driving cars and this signals the end of the driving boom, a new report contends. Author Name (optional | May 14, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • The driving boom is over, as Millennials snub their noses at cars, a new report released on Tuesday said.
  • In the middle of the last decade, the number of miles driven tumbled, and is part of a trend rooted in shifting demographics, notes the report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
  • "Auto companies are under some distress, understandably," said Phineas Baxandall, author of the report in a Webinar. "Over time, this is something where the auto industry is not going to be able to change these trends or change the arc of the things by adding more information technology on the dashboard."

BOSTON — The driving boom is over, as Millennials snub their noses at cars, a new report released on Tuesday said.

In the middle of the last decade, the number of miles driven tumbled, and is part of a trend rooted in shifting demographics, notes the report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization that supports alternative transportation.

"Auto companies are under some distress, understandably," said Phineas Baxandall, author of the report in a Webinar. "Over time, this is something where the auto industry is not going to be able to change these trends or change the arc of the things by adding more information technology on the dashboard."

The report slammed national and local transportation planners for continually overestimating traffic demand and said that most of the nation's transportation policies make new highway investment easier than alternatives such as bike sharing and other "non-driving choices."

"The driving boom is over," Baxandall said during the Webinar. "Stop assuming its return lies around the corner. We don't know what will replace it."

He added: "Support the desire of Millennials and other Americans to drive less."

The study is one of several that shows younger people are less likely to drive than their parents — or even to have driver's licenses.

This latest study says that Millennials want to live in urban areas and use non-driving modes more than previous generations. The study calls them the "first mobile technology generation," noting that 25 percent of Millennials report having used mobile apps for such things as car sharing and bike sharing to reduce driving. Those 55 and up use such apps just nine percent of the time.

Policy priorities no longer reflect reality, the study warns.

Transportation funding is indirectly tied to the number of miles people drive through the gasoline tax. With fewer people driving, there is the concern that fewer funds will be available for infrastructure expansion and repair. But the study says there will also be less oil consumption and pollution, less traffic congestion and less wear-and-tear on roads.

Edmunds says: Is this the beginning of the end of the love affair with the car? This alternative transportation advocacy group thinks so.

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