The Most Car-dependent States - FOX21- Entertaining Delmarva One Click at a Time

The Most Car-dependent States

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In the U.S., a driver’s license means greater responsibility and risk, but it also means freedom and flexibility. Nationally, 85 percent of adults aged 16 and older have a driver’s license. Annually, these drivers log 3.2 trillion miles. While many of these miles are accounted for by road trips and family vacations, the majority come from daily commutes and day-to-day business operations.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the average one-way commute time for U.S. workers is 26.9 minutes. That time is up 18 seconds over the previous survey. The additional time may not seem like much, but it represents an extra 2.5 hours on the road each year. Of course, for workers in urban areas, the commute time can be much longer.

Further, U.S. workers generally commute solo. Despite the rise of public transportation, bike lanes, and ridesharing services, the majority of workers (76.4 percent) drive alone. Only 8.9 percent carpool and 5 percent use public transportation. Combined, less than 5 percent of workers walk, bike, or commute by other means.

As the U.S. population has grown, so have the number of vehicles on the road. In fact, the increase in the total number of vehicles on American roads has outpaced population growth since the 1960s. Of the 272 million vehicles (including private and public automobiles, buses, trucks, and motorcycles) driven today, 109 million are privately-owned passenger vehicles.

As the number of vehicles per person has grown, so has the average distance traveled per year. The latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows that U.S. drivers log about 10,000 miles per year, up from roughly 7,000 miles in the 1980s. Over the past several decades, the largest increases have occurred in urban areas. As a result, city roads are increasingly congested, prolonging commute times and adding to Americans’ daily stress.

The wasted time spent in the car is also costly. Research firm INRIX found that Americans lose 97 hours a year to traffic jams and slow-moving drivers. The lost hours translate to a cost of $87 billion a year.

That said, the stress and financial strain caused by increased time spent behind the wheel doesn’t impact residents throughout the country uniformly. To identify the most car-dependent states in the U.S., researchers at USInsuranceAgents.com analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Census Bureau. They created a composite car-dependency index based on the following factors and weights:

  • Annual miles driven per person – 50%
  • Workers who commute by car – 30%
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person – 10%
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license – 10%

Here’s what they found:

Key Takeaways

Overall, the car-dependency index ranges from a high of 98.81 to a low of 50.8. The most car-dependent states largely exist in the southern part of the U.S. Conversely, the least car-dependent states are generally found on the West Coast or in the Northeast.

Rural versus urban density plays an important role in determining car dependency. The least car-dependent states have low percentages of residents living in rural areas. The opposite is true for states at the high end of the index. Residents in rural areas are less likely to have access to public transportation and are more likely to require a car for daily commuting and other responsibilities.

While driving has increased overall, a smaller share of U.S. employees are using their personal vehicles to get to work. In a 10-year span from 2007 to 2017, Census reported a 1.2 percentage point drop in workers who commute by car. Among the least car-dependent states, the drop was as great as 5.4 percentage points in the District of Columbia. Conversely, in the most car-dependent states, these numbers generally stayed the same or increased over the same time period.

Among the largest U.S. cities, Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco experienced the greatest decreases in car commuters since 2007, at 9.2, 8.1, and 7.1 percentage points, respectively.

The Most Car-dependent States


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1. Alabama

  • Car-dependency index: 98.81
  • Annual miles driven per person: 14,499
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.41
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 100%
  • Workers who commute by car: 94.2%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: No significant change


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

2. Tennessee

  • Car-dependency index: 91.97
  • Annual miles driven per person: 12,247
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.34
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 98%
  • Workers who commute by car: 92.0%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: -1.4 percentage points


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

3. Arkansas

  • Car-dependency index: 90.80
  • Annual miles driven per person: 12,112
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.30
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 100%
  • Workers who commute by car: 93.2%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: No significant change


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

4. Mississippi

  • Car-dependency index: 90.49
  • Annual miles driven per person: 13,698
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.27
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 86%
  • Workers who commute by car: 94.6%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: +0.8 percentage points


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

5. North Dakota

  • Car-dependency index: 90.21
  • Annual miles driven per person: 12,863
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.36
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 93%
  • Workers who commute by car: 89.8%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: +1.9 percentage points


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

6. Oklahoma

  • Car-dependency index: 89.41
  • Annual miles driven per person: 12,568
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.34
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 80%
  • Workers who commute by car: 92.1%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: No significant change


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

7. Missouri

  • Car-dependency index: 87.63
  • Annual miles driven per person: 12,417
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.35
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 86%
  • Workers who commute by car: 90.6%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: No significant change


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

8. New Mexico

  • Car-dependency index: 87.46
  • Annual miles driven per person: 14,214
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.29
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 88%
  • Workers who commute by car: 90.0%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: No significant change


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

9. Indiana

  • Car-dependency index: 86.96
  • Annual miles driven per person: 12,263
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.34
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 85%
  • Workers who commute by car: 91.2%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: -1.4 percentage points


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

10. Wyoming

  • Car-dependency index: 86.57
  • Annual miles driven per person: 16,890
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.33
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 91%
  • Workers who commute by car: 88.1%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: No significant change

The Least Car-dependent States


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1. New York

  • Car-dependency index: 50.80
  • Annual miles driven per person: 6,234
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.23
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 74%
  • Workers who commute by car: 59.4%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: -2.1 percentage points


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

2. District of Columbia

  • Car-dependency index: 53.34
  • Annual miles driven per person: 5,354
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.28
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 89%
  • Workers who commute by car: 39.6%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: -5.4 percentage points


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

3. Hawaii

  • Car-dependency index: 56.37
  • Annual miles driven per person: 7,529
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.35
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 81%
  • Workers who commute by car: 80.8%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: -2.4 percentage points


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

4. Alaska

  • Car-dependency index: 56.67
  • Annual miles driven per person: 7,460
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.23
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 92%
  • Workers who commute by car: 81.1%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: No significant change


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

5. New Jersey

  • Car-dependency index: 57.07
  • Annual miles driven per person: 8,607
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.31
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 85%
  • Workers who commute by car: 78.9%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: -2.1 percentage points


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

6. Illinois

  • Car-dependency index: 58.71
  • Annual miles driven per person: 8,437
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.36
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 82%
  • Workers who commute by car: 80.8%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: -2.2 percentage points


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

7. Massachusetts

  • Car-dependency index: 59.70
  • Annual miles driven per person: 9,134
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.32
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 86%
  • Workers who commute by car: 77.3%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: -3.9 percentage points


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

8. Pennsylvania

  • Car-dependency index: 59.71
  • Annual miles driven per person: 7,935
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.34
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 84%
  • Workers who commute by car: 84.7%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: -1.4 percentage points


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

9. California

  • Car-dependency index: 62.25
  • Annual miles driven per person: 8,697
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.37
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 84%
  • Workers who commute by car: 83.9%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: -1.1 percentage points


Photo Credit: Alamy Stock Photo

10. Oregon

  • Car-dependency index: 62.36
  • Annual miles driven per person: 8,872
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person: 0.37
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license: 85%
  • Workers who commute by car: 81.4%
  • 10-year change in workers commuting by car: -3.1 percentage points

Methodology & Full Results

To identify the most car-dependent states, a composite car-dependency index was calculated based on the following factors and weights:

  • Annual miles driven per person (50%): Annual vehicle-miles traveled divided by the state population.
  • Workers who commute by car (30%): The percentage of workers who commute by car, truck, or van.
  • Number of passenger vehicles per person (10%): Number of privately-owned automobiles divided by the state population.
  • Adults 16+ with a driver’s license (10%): The total number of licensed drivers in the state divided by the population 16 and over. In some instances, the resulting statistic slightly exceeded 100%. This could be the result of certain residents moving out-of-state and not yet transferring their license. For the purpose of this analysis, we capped these values at 100%.

The data used was sourced from the following reports and surveys:

  • Vehicle-miles traveled, vehicle registrations, and driver’s license statistics are from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.
  • Commuting statistics and population estimates are from the U.S. Census Bureau 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates.

This post originally appeared on 360 Quote and solely reflects the views of the author, not this site nor Frankly Media.

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