What is the average miles driven per year, and why is it important?

Karolis Bareckas

Karolis Bareckas

The average annual mileage is the distance a driver covers in a year. It not only allows you to plan your car’s maintenance but also affects a vehicle’s value. The more miles you drive, the faster your car depreciates.

In this article, we’ll explain why annual mileage is important, and what the current driving trends are.

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How many miles do people travel in a year?

According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average American drives 13,476 miles (21,688 km) per year. This means that a 10-year-old car may have driven more than 134,000 miles (216,000 km). However, these numbers can vary widely in different countries and even US states.

Estimates say that Germans travel 8,452 miles (13,602 km) per year on average, while Italians drive only 5259 miles (8464 km).

What's fuelling the driving trends?

The annual mileage depends on a country’s size, public transport infrastructure, economy, fuel costs, and driving habits.

The US is less densely populated than most European countries, therefore many Americans prefer commuting by car. Gas prices also play a significant role, as drivers in the US typically pay 2-3 times less for fuel than Europeans.

Almost 92% of American households own at least one car, which makes the US one of the most motorized countries in the world. US cities aren’t bicycle friendly compared to European cities like Amsterdam, Copenhagen, or Stockholm. Additionally, cars and gas are heavily taxed in Europe, making cycling and public transportation more attractive.

The impact of the miles driven per year average

During the last decade, the average annual mileage in the US grew significantly, which suggests that Americans are more dependent on cars than ever before. Estimates say that Americans drive around 3.2 trillion miles annually. Among other things, this has resulted in a growth in traffic accidents and road fatalities.

How much does mileage affect prices and car value?

If a 5-year-old car has 100,000 miles (160,000 km) on the odometer, its value will be lower than the same model with 50,000 miles (80,000 km). After a particular mileage point, many car parts are worn out and need to be replaced, car maintenance is required. For example, you should replace the timing chain belt every 60,000-100,000 miles (100,000-160,000 km). If a car has already passed this mark, you'll have additional expenses.

Since buyers look for vehicles with a lower mileage, odometer rollbacks are common in every country. Fraudsters clock the mileage to increase a car’s value and make more money.

However, mileage is not the only factor impacting the price. Throughout its lifetime, a car may suffer several accidents, experience various road conditions, and be driven in different climates, which also puts strain on its components.

If a car has been driven mostly on highways, its condition may be much better compared to one that was often used in stop-and-go traffic.

How does the annual mileage affect insurance rates?

The more miles you drive annually, the more costly your insurance may be. Driving many miles increases the chances of getting into a car accident, which insurance companies treat as additional risk. While a higher annual mileage may not increase your insurance price dramatically, you can still expect to pay a bit more.

Estimates say people driving around 5,000 miles (8,000 km) annually can expect the best insurance rates. The rate may be 25% higher if a vehicle logs over 20,000 miles (32,000 km) per year. However, it all depends on the insurance company and where you live.

A car’s engine, model, year of manufacture, accident history, and driving experience play a more significant role in the final insurance price. If you drive a brand new luxury SUV with a powerful engine, you’ll pay more than someone who drives a compact car but logs twice as many miles.

How do demographics play a role in annual miles?

When it comes to annual miles, it’s no surprise that age and gender are significant factors. Somebody who commutes to work by car every day will make more miles in a year than a retired person. However, this is just a tip of the iceberg.

Average annual miles driven by age groups

According to the US Department of Transportation, males drive much more miles than females (16,550 miles against 10,142 miles, or 26,635 km against 16,322 km). However, female drivers with licenses outnumber males.

The smallest gap between men and women is in the 16-19 age group, where men make 8,206 miles (13,206 km), while females – 6,873 miles (11,061 km) in a year. This gap then starts growing rapidly and is the widest in the 55-64 age group (15,859 miles against 7,780 miles, or 25,523 km against 12,521 km).

Men from 35 to 54 drive the most miles per year – 18,858 miles (30,349 km), which is twice as much as in some European countries.

More teens getting a license before age 18

One of the reasons why the average annual mileage in the US has surged in the last decade is the growing number of teens getting their licenses early. According to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 60% of young drivers get their licenses before turning 18. While they don’t make a lot of miles per year, they still contribute to the overall mileage statistics.

A lot also depends on where a person lives. Somebody growing up in large cities like New York or Chicago will be less likely to get a license early compared to their peers in less urbanized areas.

Teens are involved in accidents 3 times more often than adults, making them a serious threat to other drivers.

Knowing a car's mileage history before buying

A car’s mileage can tell you a lot about its upcoming maintenance and value. However, many vehicles have a clocked mileage, which makes this task complicated. You can check a car’s actual mileage in a few clicks and avoid bad used vehicle deals.

All you have to do is enter a vehicle’s VIN on carVertical to learn its mileage and see how it has changed throughout the years. A history report may also reveal theft records, past damages, recalls, photos, ownership changes, and other valuable data.

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Karolis Bareckas

Article by

Karolis Bareckas

Karolis is an automotive writer focusing on the industry part of things. His goal is to educate readers and foster transparency in the used car market. With a passion for storytelling and extensive experience writing in a variety of fields, Karolis enjoys sharing his knowledge and spreading the word about automotive and tech topics. He’s also a a big fan of muscle cars and long road trips.