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States where people drive the most

  • States where people drive the most

    Driving is as American as apple pie, and the lure of an open highway is a classic image of freedom and untethered adventure.

    The average American drives just about 13,500 miles a year, which is more than 1,000 miles a month, according to the Federal Highway Administration, and approximately 85% of Americans have driver’s licenses. Men drive an average of about 16,500 miles a year, about two-thirds more than women, who drive an average of about 10,100 a year. The United States is miles ahead of other countries when it comes to driving. The average Canadian driver logs just under 9,600 miles a year, and in third place, Australian drivers log about 8,600 miles. But the freedom of the road has its price: around 6 million car accidents occur every year in the United States, killing an average of more than 90 people a day.

    In addition, many people agree that gasoline-powered cars are an environmental problem and that driving less will help fight climate change. Cars and trucks emit greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and spew fumes that cause air pollution, respiratory illness, and cancer. Urban planners, environmentalists, health-care experts, and policymakers have tried myriad ways to lure Americans away from the wheel of their cars into alternatives like public trains and buses, ride-sharing, bicycling, and walking, but it’s been a tough sell.

    Driving rates dropped dramatically during the spring months of lockdowns aimed at stopping the spread of coronavirus, reducing vehicle traffic by half or more in Los Angeles, New York, and Washington. And with so many people likely to continue working from home for the foreseeable future, driving rates may well stay down.

    Stacker decided to compile a list of the states where people drive the most, using data from the U.S. Department of Transportation. States are ranked by the number of vehicle miles per capita. Population data is accurate as of 2018 from the U.S. Census Bureau.

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  • #50. New York

    - Miles driven per capita: 6,320
    - Miles driven in rural areas: 20.5% (#41 among all states)
    - Miles driven by road type:
    --- Interstate: 22.3% (#40 among all states)
    --- Freeway: 15.1% (#4)
    --- Arterial: 35.7% (#38)
    --- Collector: 11.2% (#42)
    --- Local: 15.7% (#17)

    Almost half of the state’s population lives in New York City, where there is little need to drive. The city is served by extensive public transportation with 472 subway stations and the country’s busiest bus system of more than 16,000 stops. Many older New Yorkers never learned to drive, and it’s less of a rite of passage for city teens. Besides, there’s nowhere to park.

  • #49. Alaska

    - Miles driven per capita: 7,441
    - Miles driven in rural areas: 41.5% (#20 among all states)
    - Miles driven by road type:
    --- Interstate: 28.8% (#13 among all states)
    --- Freeway: 0.0% (#47)
    --- Arterial: 34.3% (#46)
    --- Collector: 15.7% (#15)
    --- Local: 21.2% (#5)

    In the vast state of Alaska, many communities do not have paved roads. The most common ground transportation is a snowmobile. Also, more residents in Alaska per capita have pilot licences and use planes to get around than in other states.

  • #48. Rhode Island

    - Miles driven per capita: 7,575
    - Miles driven in rural areas: 11.4% (#47 among all states)
    - Miles driven by road type:
    --- Interstate: 27.9% (#17 among all states)
    --- Freeway: 16.4% (#3)
    --- Arterial: 40.7% (#18)
    --- Collector: 9.9% (#47)
    --- Local: 5.1% (#50)

    The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) was created in the 1960s with the intention of serving all of the state, and today communities throughout the 1,212-square-mile state are linked by enough public transportation to keep driving down. The state system has a fleet of 240 buses, 32 park-and-ride sites, and annual ridership of more than 16 million.

  • #47. Hawaii

    - Miles driven per capita: 7,664
    - Miles driven in rural areas: 16.9% (#44 among all states)
    - Miles driven by road type:
    --- Interstate: 19.1% (#48 among all states)
    --- Freeway: 4.3% (#29)
    --- Arterial: 37.2% (#32)
    --- Collector: 11.7% (#39)
    --- Local: 27.6% (#1)

    With so much of Hawaii being urban, people tend to use cars less on average than in the rest of the country. Hawaiians ride public transportation, use bicycles, and walk more than other Americans do. Traveling among the six major islands requires a plane or a boat.

  • #46. Pennsylvania

    - Miles driven per capita: 7,973
    - Miles driven in rural areas: 33.6% (#29 among all states)
    - Miles driven by road type:
    --- Interstate: 26.5% (#23 among all states)
    --- Freeway: 9.6% (#17)
    --- Arterial: 37.8% (#31)
    --- Collector: 13.2% (#30)
    --- Local: 12.9% (#25)

    Each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties is served by public transportation, giving residents another option instead of congested roads and traffic jams. The state has fixed-route transit in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and in more than 40 smaller urban and rural areas, as well as 13 bus routes linking cities. The major hubs of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Harrisburg have Amtrak service as well.

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  • #45. Washington

    - Miles driven per capita: 8,276
    - Miles driven in rural areas: 27.9% (#34 among all states)
    - Miles driven by road type:
    --- Interstate: 27.9% (#15 among all states)
    --- Freeway: 12.8% (#8)
    --- Arterial: 36.1% (#36)
    --- Collector: 13.3% (#29)
    --- Local: 9.9% (#38)

    Driving in Washington means dealing with rough roads, high gas prices, expensive auto insurance, and high rates of car theft, research shows. But in terms of public transportation, Seattle is considered to have one of the nation’s best systems based on length of commutes, the number of people who use it, accessibility, and reliability.

  • #44. Illinois

    - Miles driven per capita: 8,473
    - Miles driven in rural areas: 23.8% (#40 among all states)
    - Miles driven by road type:
    --- Interstate: 32.1% (#4 among all states)
    --- Freeway: 1.3% (#39)
    --- Arterial: 40.5% (#24)
    --- Collector: 12.4% (#35)
    --- Local: 13.7% (#22)

    Illinois is home to the nation’s third-largest city, with residents of Chicago and some three dozen surrounding suburbs able to take advantage of regional public transit through the six-county metropolitan area. The Chicago Transit Authority buses serve almost 11,000 stops, its rail cars serve 145 stations, and some service is around the clock.

  • #43. New Jersey

    - Miles driven per capita: 8,704
    - Miles driven in rural areas: 6.3% (#49 among all states)
    - Miles driven by road type:
    --- Interstate: 21.5% (#47 among all states)
    --- Freeway: 17.5% (#2)
    --- Arterial: 37.0% (#35)
    --- Collector: 8.1% (#49)
    --- Local: 15.9% (#16)

    New Jersey might evoke images of souped-up cars and busy highways, but over 90,000 passengers typically ride NJ Transit into New York City on a typical workday, and that’s only a 10th of the passengers riding buses, trains, and light rail throughout the state each workday. Pennsylvania’s Port Authority Transit Corporation, Amtrak, and private bus lines stretch throughout the rest of the state.

  • #42. Oregon

    - Miles driven per capita: 8,793
    - Miles driven in rural areas: 39.6% (#24 among all states)
    - Miles driven by road type:
    --- Interstate: 26.7% (#21 among all states)
    --- Freeway: 4.0% (#30)
    --- Arterial: 44.0% (#7)
    --- Collector: 14.5% (#23)
    --- Local: 10.8% (#33)

    Aimed at lowering driving rates, the state of Oregon offers programs and planning apps for residents to compare commuting routes, plan trips by transit, cycling, or walking, and join vanpools and carpools. The number of drivers traveling alone has been dropping in the Portland area in recent years, and a growing number of residents are walking, biking, and carpooling, research has shown.

  • #41. California

    - Miles driven per capita: 8,818
    - Miles driven in rural areas: 16.8% (#45 among all states)
    - Miles driven by road type:
    --- Interstate: 26.4% (#24 among all states)
    --- Freeway: 19.5% (#1)
    --- Arterial: 34.9% (#43)
    --- Collector: 10.6% (#44)
    --- Local: 8.7% (#44)

    Los Angeles is often characterized by its tangled knot of jammed freeways, but the state overall does less driving than that portrayal suggests. Ride-hailing and ride-sharing took off in California, where Uber and Lyft alone account for more than a half-million drivers and millions of passengers. Policymakers have been trying to wean more Californians from driving with proposals to improve public transit like high-speed rail and build affordable housing developments around transit hubs. Research shows that gridlock costs California $29 billion each year in wasted time and fuel.

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