For the first six months of 2014, vehicle miles traveled, the FHA measuring stick, were the highest since 2008, before the outbreak of the financial crisis.
Low-interest financing has helped spur new car sales to the highest levels in more than a decade, encouraging more drivers to hit the roads, according to AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair.
“Most new cars get good fuel economy and gas prices are falling. Combine that with an economy that’s slowly coming back and we see lots of road trips. Our travel projections for Labor Day showed a willingness of travelers to use credit cards to finance a trip, which could be a general trend,” Sinclair said.”…
“Before the 2007 peak, travel behavior in the United States tracked closely with economic growth,” the agency noted in a report. “Since 2007, trends in U.S. [driving] have not followed the trends in economic indicators such as income and employment as closely.”
This is double-edged news. On one hand, this could be evidence that more Americans have money to drive, buy cars, and spend money on travel. On the other hand, more driving leads to more traffic and increased environmental impacts of driving (though miles per gallon are up). And, some might see this as a sign that Americans do really want to drive more but the conditions have to be right.