10 States Where Driving Has Plummeted

It may be hard to believe, especially when you're stuck on the interstate in the middle of rush-hour traffic, but Americans are driving far less today than they were just a few years ago.

Since 2004, per-capita driving has fallen by double digits in 10 states and declined at least somewhat in nearly all of them.

It's not just the recession, experts say. The trend has been fueled by a wide range of factors, including the economic downturn, high gas prices, growth in urban areas, telecommuting, e-commerce and the Millennials' shift away from car culture.

"All seem to be moving in the same direction. I don't know if we'll ever know which is more responsible than the others" for the decline, says Phineas Baxandall, author of "Moving off the Road: A State-by-State Analysis of the National Decline in Driving," for the U.S. Public Research Interest Group.

Overall, per-capita miles driven have dropped 7.4 percent between their peak in 2004 and the end of 2012. That's a stark contrast to previous decades, where the number of miles driven rose regularly. In 1960, the average American drove about 4,000 miles a year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. By 2004, that number had risen to 10,120. In 2011, the average American drove 9,455 miles.

"The kind of 60-year driving boom we saw after World War II appears to be over," Baxandall says.

These are the places where the decrease is most pronounced:
State 2011 miles Change
Per capita Since 2005
D.C. 5,774 -14.40%
Wisconsin* 9,525 -12.14%
Delaware 9,952 -11.71%
Georgia 11,050 -11.68%
Colorado 9,108 -11.40%
Florida 10,067 -11.13%
Oregon 8,619 -11.05%
Pennsylvania 7,785 -10.44%
South Carolina 10,414 -10.36%
Texas 9,248 -10.10%

*The state of Wisconsin's internal numbers show a decline of only 5.5 percent

You can see the entire 50-state list here.

Recession is only partly to blame

"The nature of the economy is certainly a factor," says Steven Polzin, director of mobility policy at the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida.