Think You’re In Your Car More? You’re Right. Americans Spend 70 Billion Hours Behind the Wheel

Survey shows an eight percent increase since 2014

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Americans spend an additional 20 minutes driving each week compared to 2014, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Over the course of the year, Americans collectively spent 70 billion hours behind the wheel- an eight percent increase since 2014. Each week, drivers travel more than 220 miles. Add it up and Americans drive an average of 11,498 miles each year- the equivalent of making two roundtrip drives from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.

According to the AAA Foundation survey, which analyzed a number of demographics, drivers in the Northeast saw the greatest percentage increase in time behind the wheel - an average of more than 50 minutes a day – which is up more than 17 percent since 2014.

“The more time drivers spend behind the wheel, the greater their exposure to risks on the roadway” said Dr. David Yang, executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Longer time behind the wheel could lead to issues such as fatigue, distraction, and impatience for drivers, which are all contributing factors for vehicle crashes. Drivers need to stay alert and focused on the key task at hand, driving. This can save your life and the lives of your passengers and people with whom you share the road.”

The AAA Foundation’s American Driving Survey shows that on average, U.S. drivers spend nearly an hour behind the wheel each day and travel 31.5 miles- a five percent increase from 2014.

"There are several factors contributing to the increases, including higher vehicle ownership, and lower gas prices,” said Pat Moody, manager of public affairs for AAA Northern New England.

Driving Data Point

2014-2015

2016-2017

Percent change

Number of driving trips/day

2.16

2.22

2.8% (+)

Time spent driving (minutes)/day

48.0

51.0

6.3% (+)

Number of miles driven/day

29.9

31.5

5.4% (+)

Driving Population (millions)

222.2

225.8

1.6% (+)

 

Other survey findings show that:

Demographics

  • Men spend 19 percent more time behind the wheel and drive 27 percent more miles than women.
  • People who are married or living with a partner spend at least 12 percent more time driving than those who are not.
  • Drivers aged 75+ are spending, on average 34.8 minutes a day driving- a 23 percent increase from 2014.

Region

  • Drivers in the West spend the most time driving (58.9 minutes per day), followed by drivers in the Northeast (51.1 minutes), South (49.9 minutes) and Midwest (44.5 minutes) regions.
  • The number of individuals who report driving in the Midwest region dropped three percent, while the number of drivers in the Northeast, South and Western regions increased or remained the same.

The new results are part of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s American Driving Survey, which reveals the driving habits of the American public. The survey data are from a representative sample of 11,804 drivers who provided information about their driving on randomly selected days between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2017.

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides 59 million members with travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services.  Operating 19 offices throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, AAA Northern New England is a not-for-profit, fully tax-paying corporation and a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.  Today, AAA members benefit by roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip-planning services, and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available by visiting www.AAA.com.