Personal Finance Expert
Tyron Jones is a finance expert who has operated within the auto insurance business for more than 10 years. He has written many other finance related articles for a number of prominent publications.
Most people have no clue what the average number of miles drivers drive per year is. When you take all information into account, the short answer would be around 13,476 miles per year. This is according to the United States Department of Transportation. This equates to each driver putting at least 1,000 miles each month on their vehicle. That is like taking two roundtrips from Los Angeles to New York City every year.
Understanding the actual driving habits across the country needs to take into account much more information such as who is driving and where they are driving the most. The U.S. Transportation department looks for many of the following trends:
- Most states in the country are seeing drivers putting more miles on their vehicles. Almost 70 percent of the states saw an increase in miles driven between 2011 and 2014.
- Men often drive more than women. Men across the country are averaging 16,550 miles each year and women are averaging much less at 10,142.
- Each year, fewer teens are getting their licenses. Since the 1980s, there has been a 24 percent decrease in the number of 16-year-olds getting their drivers licenses.
- Senior-aged drivers are staying on the roadways longer. Drivers over the age of 65 are putting more miles on their vehicles and keeping their licenses for many more years than in previous years. Drivers who are over 85 are growing at a rapid rate as well. This trend is expected to continue for years to come.
Miles Per State Show Drivers Spending More Time Out On The Roads
Most states across the country saw an increase in miles traveled per capita between the years 2011 and 2014. This was according to the FHWA data. The miles per capita driven are calculated by dividing the total population of a state from the total annual miles. The national average in 2001 was around 9,455. In 2014, the amount saw an increase and averaged 9,772.
The increase in miles driven per capita is not evenly dispersed between all states. Some states are seeing bigger increases and others are barely seeing any difference. The number of miles you drive each year can have a significant impact on your insurance rates. Insurance companies see drivers who spend more time out on the roads at a higher risk of getting into accidents and needing to place claims. With that said, the state's average miles driven will also have an effect on insurance rates. You can estimate car insurance payment plans by filling out our quote form above.
When it relates to vehicle miles traveled per capita, the number of states in the country is still going down. Below are some of the top miles per capita for each state according to information released from the FHWA.
- Wyoming- 16,272 mpc in 2011 and 16,410 mpc in 2014
- Tennessee- 11,049 mpc in 2011 and 11,554 mpc in 2014
- North Carolina- 10,746 mpc in 2011 and 11,120 mpc in 2014
- Kentucky- 11,000 mpc in 2011 and 11,582 mpc in 2014
- Alabama- 13,516 mpc in 2011 and 12,713 mpc in 2014
Average Miles Driven Each Year By Age Group
According to federal data, the number of miles being driven per person can be broken down into different age groups. These groups show significant information about people's driving habits as they get older.
- Ages 16 to 19 averaged 7,624 miles
- Ages 20 to 34 averaged 15,098 miles
- Ages 35 to 45 averaged 15,291 miles
- Ages 55 to 64 averaged 11,972 miles
- Over the age of 65 averaged 7,646 miles
Middle-age drivers put in the most time and miles out on the roads. However, it is interesting to see that senior motorists are starting to drive more and more each year since the 1990s. This is a trend that is expected to continue growing well beyond 2040. The trend is based on information from the United States Energy and Information Agency. Above all, drivers who are over the age of 85 happen to be the fastest growing age group out of all ages.
FHWA Data :
- Drivers older than 50 had reached over 93 million in 2013.
- Drivers older than 85 continue to be the fastest growing group of drivers across the country. The number of these drivers grew from 3.48 million in early 2013 from around 1.76 million in 1998.
- Drivers older than 60 represent over 26 percent of all drivers in the country. This is a 20 percent increase from 2004 to 2014.
On a side note, fewer teens are getting their licenses these days. The number of teens with licenses is at an all-time low. In 2014, there were 8.5 million licensed drivers on the roads. Only around one million were age 16 at the time.
Other Key Data Points:
Data collected shows a number of other valid points that need to be factored into the equation. The first being the total amount of miles teen drivers drive has plummeted for more than one reason. The first reason is the number of teen drivers getting their licenses has gone down. The second reason is that the teens who do get their licenses are driving fewer miles than previous years. In 1990, drivers between 16 and 19 averaged around 8,485 miles a year. In 2009, the same age group averaged 6,244 miles a year.
How Do Your Miles Per Year Compare?
If you are not sure how many miles per year you drive, there is a simple way to calculate it and get a good estimate to use. Begin by tracking your usual travels for a week. Once you have this amount, multiply it by 52 and the result will be your average total miles driven per year. Use this number to see if you may qualify for low-mileage discounts on your car insurance. You may also be able to deduct some of your mileage on your taxes if those miles were driven for moving, charitable reasons, business ventures or for medical reasons.
How To Receive Low-Mileage Discounts On Your Car Insurance
The ability to get any discount on your car insurance for low-mileage will vary greatly between insurance companies. In most cases, you can expect to receive a discount of around five to 15 percent off your premiums. The minimum amount of miles that constitutes low-mileage will also vary between insurance companies. For some companies, low-milage discounts will be for drivers who put less than 10,000 miles on their vehicles a year. Other companies may offer discounts to drivers who drive less than 7,500 a year.
It should be noted that most of these discounts are only available on liability and collision coverages. This means that the discount does not come off of your total bill. Also, companies will not usually have a separate line in their bills that show a low-mileage discount. Because of this, you may need to speak directly with your agent to find out if you qualify for or are receiving the discount already.
Generally, the low-mileage discounts will translate into savings up to two percent off your bill. Below are some savings you can expect from different states.
- California- Save 22 percent
- Massachusetts- Save six percent
- Wisconsin- Save four percent
- Pennsylvania- Save three percent
Many insurance companies will require proof of your mileage before allowing you to receive a discount. This proof can be given in a variety of ways such as emissions records, a photo attached to a formal document or service records.
For drivers who barely drive, you might find great savings on insurance in the form of “pay-as-you-drive” policies. Certain companies, such as Progressive, will send you a small device to plug into your vehicle. It will keep tabs on your odometer readings and your daily driving habits. The company uses this information to calculate your discount. In some cases, this may equate to saving up to 40 percent on your car insurance premiums.
Average Cost Per Mile
Many people don't understand the cost of driving a vehicle. It's estimated that the cost per mile on the road is around 60 cents. This factors in your insurance, gasoline, depreciation, and a host of other factors.
Driving Habits- The Rise And Fall
For more than 60 years, the number of miles most Americans drive per capita each year has gone up. In 2004, those numbers topped out at roughly 10,120 per capita. Since that time, those numbers have been steadily declining in almost all states. The good side to the decrease is that the number of accidents saw a decrease as well. The United States Transportation Department recorded a huge drop in car accident fatalities. From 1986 until 2008, the number of drivers dying in accidents was between 42,000 and 45,000. When the stats were tallied at the end of 2008, it was noted the amount of car accident fatalities took a huge drop down to 32,000.
What Is Causing The Driving Trend?
There is no single reason behind the driven trend continuing. No one knows exactly why more and more people are driving extra miles per year. There are some guesses to why this is happening. Experts believe the possible reasons for more driving may include lower gas prices and an improving economy. AAA has estimated that drivers across America have saved over $18 billion on gas so far this year.
Affordable gas is a huge motivator when it comes to people driving when they don't have to. When gas is high, people forego road trips and driving long distances. When the cost of gas goes down significantly, it is a huge motivator for people to get out on the roadways. According to a recent survey by AAA, around 55 percent of people will choose to take road trips if they feel gas prices are reasonable.
Fatalities Are Outpacing The Miles Being Driven
Even though gas prices are the top reason for most people getting out and driving more, there are other factors at play that need to be taken into consideration. The number of fatalities on the roads is going up quicker than the rates of miles being driven. This equates to an almost 10 percent increase in deaths resulting from car accidents.
The culprit may be more young and inexperienced drivers taking to the roads. Nationwide, young drivers get into significantly more accidents than older drivers. Even if the age to get your license was pushed up a few years, data is showing that young drivers in their late teens and early twenties are not as interested in getting their licenses.
The Result Equals Higher Insurance Rates Across The Board
When it comes to traffic, the more there is, the more accidents there will be. This means there is always more room for car accident fatalities to increase. Unfortunately, this also means there is a good chance that car insurance rates will increase as well.
To calculate an insurance premium, insurance companies will use a variety of factors. These can include things such as geographical loss data, zip codes, driving records and age. If you live in an area that has a high amount of traffic collisions, this means insurance rates will generally be higher in that area. Even if you have a clean driving record yourself, the amount of accidents your area has year after year will indirectly affect your insurance premiums. Keep in mind that rates for the same insurance coverage and same geographical area can still vary greatly between insurance providers.
Each insurance company has their own way they calculate premiums for their customers. If you are in the market for insurance, it is important to take time and compare multiple companies. Doing this could mean big savings on your insurance. On top of seeing if you qualify for a low-mileage discount, use online car insurance rating tools to see what you might have to pay for insurance in your area.
Mileage for Parts
While mileage limits are often spoken of in terms of your entire vehicle, it's also important to consider the mileage of the individual parts in your vehicle. Parts will wear down much quicker than your entire vehicle — keeping them up-to-date is essential if you want to drive safely.
For example, every 50,000 miles it's advisable to change the tires on your vehicle. But you should also keep your eyes on the tread and ask your mechanic to examine the tread every time you check your vehicle in for a service.
Brakes are another critical component that you need to consider. The mileage lifespan of brakes varies considerably – most people change their brakes around every 40,000 miles. But every time you take your vehicle for inspection, this should be checked.
Car batteries are another important component that you need to consider. A vehicle's battery should be replaced around every five years. You don't want to end up stranded because your car's battery doesn’t have any juice left. You can test a battery's power next time your head into your mechanic for an inspection.
Lastly, a clutch is another vital component of your vehicle that will most likely need replacing a few times throughout the lifetime of your car. Again, this is a component that's lifespan varies drastically depending on car usage and the type of clutch installed in your vehicle. At present, most clutch's will need to be replaced at around 60,000 miles.
You can ask your mechanic about the mileage limits of specific car parts, but it's also essential to do a bit of your own research. It's in a mechanic's financial interest to have you replace as many parts as possible – make sure they are components that truly need replacing.
Outside of Insurance: Stay Aware of Miles
While mileage is very critical if you want to keep your insurance rates as low as possible, it's also essential to consider the other problems that heavy mileage can create. If you're purchasing a new vehicle, the annual average mileage of the vehicle is essential in understanding if the car has been overused. As a common rule of thumb, auto experts suggest you don't purchase a vehicle that averages more than 12,000 miles per year.
Considering many people accumulate more than this per year on their vehicles, it's a good option to look for the right type of car. Many people fall victim to the car's year when purchasing a vehicle. Just because a vehicle is newer than another option, doesn't mean it's the best car to purchase. In many cases, businesses will purchase vehicles, drive them rampantly for a three years, and then try to offload them.
If you purchase a vehicle that has been driven extensively in a short amount of time, you can expect to pay for serious repairs in the future. It's always worth getting this type of vehicle checked by a mechanic before you make a purchase.
On the flip side, it's also important to consider how your driving impacts the value of your vehicle. If you want to ensure you have solid resale value, it's important to keep track of your annual mileage. Drivers are often aware of what normal mileage is. If you sell a car to a dealership after you purchase a new vehicle, the dealership's buyers will heavily weight the number of miles on your vehicle.
The Uber Problem
If you're considering driving for Uber (or maybe you already do), it's essential to consider how it impacts the value of your vehicle. Driving for Uber sounds like a great deal – you can drive when and where you want to earn some extra cash. Many people also make it a full time profession. While Uber does offer its drivers the ability to make quick cash, it's essential consider the cost of this activity.
Most people factor in insurance costs, gasoline, and their time when they're deciding if Uber is a solid job option. Unfortunately, a critical component is often overlooked – depreciation. Every mile you drive in your vehicle causes a small amount of depreciation. But Uber drivers (and taxi drivers) accumulate large amounts of depreciation because of the number of miles they drive.
Considering the average appreciation per mile on a vehicle is often around eight cents, the costs can add up. For example, if you're an Uber driver that is driving around 50,000 miles per year in your vehicle, you may end up with annual depreciation costs of around $4,000.
While you will be earning money while you're driving Uber, you have to remember that a lot of your mileage will come when you don't have anyone in your vehicle. Driving around while waiting for fares can end up being expensive when you factor in gasoline, depreciation, and your time.
There are tons of excellent resources online that can help you factor mileage depreciation into your Uber cost – this can help you get a full picture of your potential earnings as an Uber driver.
Verdict: Mileage is King
As you can see, mileage is one of the key components that determines the value of your vehicle. You should always keep average mileage in mind when you're using your vehicle – it can have serious repercussions on the value of your vehicle when it comes time to sell.
At the same time, it's essential to consider the mileage of any vehicle you're planning on purchasing. Your mileage can play a major role in your insurance policy. If you want to save as much money as possible, you should always consider mileage a crucial component.
Lastly, if you need any additional insurance on auto insurance or auto-related topics, make sure to check out some of the other excellent content on our site. We pride ourselves on being one of the internet's best auto insurance resources.