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Brian Imus,
Illinois PIRG Education Fund

New Report: Long-Term Drop in How Much People Drive

Youth Desire More Transportation Options
For Immediate Release

A new report released today by the Illinois PIRG Education Fund demonstrates that Americans have been driving less since the middle of last decade. The report, Transportation and the New Generation: Why Young People are Driving Less and What it Means for Transportation Policy, shows that young people in particular are decreasing the amount they drive and increasing their use of transportation alternatives.

“For the first time in two generations, there has been a significant shift in how many miles Americans are driving each year,” said Brian Imus, Director of the Illinois PIRG Education Fund. “America needs to understand these trends when deciding how to focus our future transportation investments, especially when transportation dollars are so scarce.”

Transportation and the New Generation reveals that for the first time since World War II, Americans are driving less and have been doing so since the middle of last decade. The report shows that by 2011, the average American was driving 6 percent fewer miles per year than in 2004. 

This trend away from driving is even more pronounced among young people. The average young person (age 16-34) drove 23 percent fewer miles in 2009 than the average young person in 2001. The report also notes that a growing number of young Americans do not have driver’s licenses; from 2000 to 2010, the share of 14 to 34-year-olds without a license increased from 21 percent to 26 percent.

According to the report, between 2001 and 2009, the annual number of miles traveled by 16 to 34 year olds on public transit such as trains and buses increased by 40 percent. 

“The shift away from six decades of in¬creasing vehicle travel to a new reality of slow-growing or even declining vehicle travel has potentially seismic implica¬tions for transportation policy,” says Benjamin Davis, analyst with Frontier Group and co-author of the report. “It calls into question the very wisdom of our current transportation investment priorities.” 

“America's transportation preferences appear to be changing. Our elected officials need to make transportation decisions based on the real needs of Americans in the 21st century,” concluded Imus.

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