It's no secret that Americans love to drive. Millions of people across the U.S. use cars to commute to work, embark on long road trips or complete daily errands. Not many details were known about the intricacies of these habits, however, and questions regarding who exactly was on the roads remained.
But now, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has released the results of its massive American Driving Survey, which shed light on what's happening on the road. The organization collected data over the course of a year, from May 2013 to May 2014.
"This is the first ongoing study that provides a look at when and how much Americans are driving," said Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "Existing federal data with this level of detail was last released in 2009, eight years after the previous release. This substantially limits the extent to which we can use existing data to draw conclusions about Americans' current driving habits."
A country divided
According to the survey, the average American drives almost 30 miles each day, typically split among two trips and taking up about 46 minutes. That encompasses the average work commute for most drivers, but it's only the tip of the iceberg with regard to U.S. drivers.
The study also found that some driving habits were divided based on gender. While women took more individual trips, men drove approximately 35 percent more miles. Men also spent an increased amount of time - approximately 25 percent - behind the wheel. The age of motorists also mattered. Teens and older people spent less time on the roads, while people ages 30 to 49 drove more than anyone else.
That wasn't the only split in the results. AAA noted that all drivers tend to drive more during the week than on weekends, which could be a sign that people grow tired of long commutes during the work week and simply want to take it easy on their days off. They could also devote their free time to scheduled maintenance, as these tasks need to be completed so they can continue to drive safely during the week.
It's not a surprise to learn that people in different regions of the U.S. drive differently. AAA reported that motorists in the South drive the most, averaging 11,826 miles each year. That's over 3,000 miles more than their counterparts in the Northeast. These drivers tend to rack up the fewest miles annually, coming in at 8,468 miles.
Seasons also impact driving habits. In the winter, when roads are tough to manage and keeping up with seasonal auto repair becomes a pain, people drive about 25.7 miles each day. That figure jumps up to more than 30 miles daily in the summer, thanks in large part to more hospitable driving conditions.
What does it mean?
Learning that the average drivers accumulate about 10,658 miles each year may not seem like much, but it could be valuable information with regard to vehicle maintenance. If motorists can determine how much they drive in an average month, they are in a better position to plan for basic maintenance tasks. They'll know when to trade in those oil change coupons or check their tires for a rotation. This is key to increasing the longevity of your ride and ensuring personal safety of everyone involved, so be sure to take a look at your habits and decide on a plan of action from there.