Americans are driving less — including New Jerseyans — with the country as a whole driving 7.4 percent fewer miles than during the peak year of 2004. New Jersey’s peak was 2007, and it has seen a drop of 5.5 percent in miles driven, according to the U.S. Public Interest Group (PIRG) Education Fund. This comes after 60 years of constant increases in what’s known as the “driving boom.”
The falloff, according to a recent report by PIRG, is not due to the economic recession — although that could have had some impact – nor is it temporary. It is led, according to the report, by Millenials — those aged 16 to 34. The report points out that although over 87 percent of 19-year-olds held drivers licenses in 1983, only 69 percent did in 2011.
Millennials are the largest generation in America and thus indicate a fundamental shift.
Despite its status as a suburban state overrun by malls, New Jerseyans generally drive fewer miles than people in most other states, at 8,286 miles per capita. Only a few other states — New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island among them — drive fewer miles per capita. That does make sense given that population density and higher income both indicate fewer miles driven. Working from home also is another factor in the shift toward driving fewer miles, and New Jersey is among the leaders in that trend.