Americans Spend 70 Billion Hours Behind The Wheel; Up Eight Percent Since 2014

Survey Finds Drivers In The West Are Behind The Wheel The Longest

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Photo credit: AAA

Americans spend an additional 20 minutes driving each week compared to 2014, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Collectively, Americans are now spending 70 billion hours a year behind the wheel - an eight percent increase since 2014. Each week, the average driver travels 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.

“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, lower gas prices and aging highway infrastructure, which can contribute to more traffic delays,” said Automobile Club of Southern California spokesperson Jeffrey Spring. 

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:

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 an average of 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 AAA Foundation’s American Driving Survey is conducted to analyze trends in Americans’ driving habits. 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 Dec. 31, 2017.

Editor’s Note: B-roll of a Los Angeles driver available at https://vimeo.com/319643569

Media Contacts

Elaine Beno
(714) 885-2324
Beno.Elaine@aaa-calif.com
Doug Shupe
LA-based media contact
512-659-1632
shupe.doug@aaa-calif.com