New Study Shows Texans Aren't Driving As Much These Days

Traffic sits at a red light near a Metro bus stop on the University of Houston campus. Researchers say they’re seeing a decline in driving among Texans ages 18-34.
Despite a growing population and lots of new cars on the road, figures show Texans are driving less. A new study looks at some of the reasons behind the trend.

The nonprofit consumer advocacy group TexPIRG used numbers from the Federal Highway Administration to analyze driving habits.

Researchers say over the past eight years there's been a ten percent drop in vehicle miles traveled in Texas. And there's been a 13 percent decrease since 1999, the peak year for driving.

TexPIRG Program Director Sara Smith says they're seeing much of the decrease with Texans ages 18-34.

"Our research shows that millennials really want to drive less so they take advantage more of public transportation. They use technology more through ride-sharing, through working at home."

And Smith says there's been a significant rise in telecommuting, with Texas one of the top states leading the trend.

"Austin ranked fourth, San Antonio ranked 55th. That's right in the middle but that's still good, considering the stereotype that Texans are wedded to their cars."

Here in Houston, Smith says TexPRIG is curious to see how driving patterns change once Metro opens its three new light rail lines. The first of those lines opens later this month.

To read an earlier TexPIRG Education Fund report on the implications of the national decline in driving, download, “A New Direction: Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America’s Future”

Bio photo of Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

Gail Delaughter joined KUHF in October 2008 as Saturday morning news anchor and host. A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Gail has extensive experience in Texas and Louisiana as a radio news reporter and morning show anchor and co-host...