Cars

Americans driving less as car culture wanes

Researchers reported that driving in America has stalled since its peak in August 2007.
Researchers reported that driving in America has stalled since its peak in August 2007.Toby Talbot/associated press

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Driving in America has stalled, leading researchers to ask: Is the national love affair with the automobile over?

After rising for decades, total US vehicle use — the collective miles people drive — peaked in August 2007. It then dropped sharply during the Great Recession and has largely plateaued since, even though the economy is recovering and the population growing. Just this week, the Federal Highway Administration reported vehicle miles traveled during the first half of 2013 were down slightly, continuing the trend.

Even more telling, the average number of miles drivers individually rack up peaked in July 2004 at just over 900 per month. By July of last year, that had fallen to 820 miles per month, down about 9 percent.

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