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Average miles - impact on car insurance

Average Miles Driven Per Year: Why It Is Important

Transportation is undoubtedly a key element of survival and driving is a central part of the American identity. If you go to work, institutions of learning, or anywhere else, chances are that you either drive there or use a commercial transport system. Either way, driving is involved. 

Over the years, the average miles traveled by Americans seem to have increased. 

But, should this matter to you as an American car owner? How does the average miles driven per year impact vehicle maintenance and costs, insurance options, car prices, etc.? Why is the average miles driven per year so important? 

Average annual miles driven per year measures the number of miles drivers generally travel throughout the year. It is an estimate of the distance covered per year per driver. The average annual mileage is an important measure to you as a car owner because it helps you estimate accurately whether a vehicle is overused, used optimally or driven at minimum mileage. Understanding your average mileage per annum relative to the state’s average can also help you compare your insurance options objectively and make wise insurance decisions.

Knowing the average miles per year can help you: 

  • Analyze your driving habits and compare it with other motorists’
  • See whether or not you qualify for a low mileage discount at your auto insurance company
  • Gauge if a used car has been driven a little or overused when you want to buy one
  • Choose the right insurance policy for your automobile
  • Give you an insight to improve your driving habits and boost vehicle maintenance. 

However, the annual average mileage is not only a vital piece of information for car owners. It is also vital to the operation of auto insurance companies. Automobile insurance firms consider the average mileage traveled as one of the crucial factors to determine insurance rates. How so? Your risk of involvement in an accident is related to the number of miles you typically drive. The higher the number of miles you travel, the greater your chances of being involved in an automobile accident.

What Are the Average Miles Driven Per Year?

According to the U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, as at 2019, the average person drove about 13, 500 miles per year. This value is equivalent to about 1000 miles each month and can conveniently be termed as the highest average mileage in American history. 

States Where Americans Drive the Most

Five states top the list with the largest average annual mileage. These states are:

  1. Wyoming 

Wyoming, a state in the mountain west sub-region of the western U.S., tops the least with an average mileage of 24,069 per year. It is the 10th largest and least populous. 

2. Mississippi

Mississippi, a southern U.S state, comes next with an average of 19,966 miles driven per year.

3. New Mexico

New Mexico has an average of 19,157 miles driven per year. 

4. Missouri

Missouri, a state in the Midwestern region of the United State records an average of 18,521 miles per year. 

5. Georgia

Georgia has an average annual mileage of 18,334 miles. 

One thing common to all these states is that they are relatively rural with a lower population density. Therefore, the residents of the states drive more as there are limited transportation options available hence driving is a very attractive option. 

States Where Americans Drive the Least

  1. District of Columbia

The District of Columbia records the lowest average annual mileage and has an average of 7,013 miles driven per year.

2. Rhode Island

Known for sandy shores and Colonial seaside towns, Rhode Island has an average of 9,961 miles per year. 

3. New York

New York has an average annual mileage of 10,167 miles. 

4. Washington

Washington, a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the western United States, has an average annual mileage of 10,949 miles. 

5. Alaska

Alaska has an average annual mileage of 11.111 miles.

Like the states with the highest annual mileage, the states with the lowest mileage also have something in common. Most of the states with the lowest annual mileage have great public transportation systems. With an excellent public transport system, public transportation seems to be a more efficient way to commute compared to driving cars.

Another factor that influences the average mileage in each state is the fuel cost. A state with a relatively lower fuel cost is likely to have a higher average annual mileage compared to one with a higher cost.

Average miles driven per year broken down by state.

StateAverage annual mile per driver
District of Columbia7,013
New Hampshire11,570
New Jersey12,263
New Mexico19,157
New York10,167
North Carolina16,073
North Dakota17,671
Rhode Island9,961
South Carolina14,941
South Dakota15,542
West Virginia16,876

Do Demographics Play a Role in Annual Mileage?

Certainly. Demographics play a key role in average annual mileage. While the U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration states an annual mileage average, there is no uniform mileage. The average number of miles traveled varies with age group, gender, health condition, locality, etc. Demographic has a role to play in average annual mileage

The Role of Demographics in Average Annual Mileage

Driving habits and behavior vary from person to person depending on their age, gender, location, and other factors.


As expected, age affects average annual mileage. The young (high school and college students) often have alternative means to commute, so they barely drive. Middle-aged men and women often have to commute to work; hence the annual average mileage is usually higher. Older adults, on the other hand, have less places to go. Once retired, they do not need to go to work and drive a lot less. Of all age groups, adults over 65 drive the least.


In America, both men and women drive. However, statistics show that on an average men drive more miles per year than women do. This is true across all age groups; however, the gap varies when age is put into consideration. The U.S Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration statistics show that the gender gap in annual average mileage widens as men and women age.

Age rangeMaleFemale
16-19 years8, 206 miles6, 873 miles
20-34 years17, 976 miles12, 004 miles
35-54 years18, 858 miles11, 464 miles
55-64 years15, 859 miles7,780 miles
Above 65 years10.404 miles4,785 miles

Overall, American women over 65 years old have the lowest average annual mileage. American men between 35-54 years have the highest miles driven per year.

The Effect of the Pandemic on Average Annual Mileage

Due to the lockdown and quarantine control measures employed, the average number of miles driven per year fell significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. With more cars parked in garages than running on roads and more people working from home, commutes were drastically reduced. But, not only were less and less people going to work, a lot of public places were also closed. So, there were even fewer places to go. This also brought about a cut in the average miles driven. The average annual mileage of over 3.261 trillion miles recorded by the U. S Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration in 2019 dropped by about 10.3% due to the pandemic.

How Does the Average Miles Driven Per Year Impact Insurance Rates?

Annual mileage directly influences car insurance costs. As an American motorist, your insurance cost is directly proportional to the number of miles you drive per year. Motorists who drive more are exposed to more risks and have a greater tendency to file for an insurance cover should an accident occur than motorists with minimal mileage. Hence, they may be charged more.

When you apply for an insurance policy, insurers consider certain factors, the average number of miles driven being a crucial one. Other crucial elements taken into consideration are your age, experience and health condition. After a careful assessment of these factors, the insurance company is able to efficiently estimate your risk level and offer you a premium that matches the risk.

You’re usually required by your insurer to indicate your commuting mile and average mileage. A high mileage typically equals higher cost implications while minimal mileage might bring discounts and save some costs. When filing your application form, ensure you give the honest estimate of your average mileage.

What Is Meant by “Commuting Miles”?

Commuting miles refers to the number of miles it takes a motorist to get to their workplace and return. This measure is important since the primary reason why many people purchase a vehicle is to commute to work. The commuting miles value given helps the insurer determine how realistic the given average mileage is and gives useful insight to the motorist’s driving habits.

Ensure your insurer is well informed of your driving condition. Should a change occur in your driving habits (say your commute becomes shorter or longer), get across to your insurer ASAP so that necessary adjustments can be made if needed. Plus, shorter commutes may bring you some insurance discounts since you now drive less hence reduced risk.

P.S: There may be no legal implications for understating your average mileage. However, there may be unwelcomed consequences when you make an insurance claim if you give dishonest mileage. When you make an insurance claim, your insurer looks into the situation and also finds out the vehicle’s mileage. Some companies request odometer reading updates; others may even perform random mileage checks for candor. Always give your insurer accurate information and honest feedback.

Low Mileage Discount and other Insurance Savings

Many insurance companies have low mileage discounts available to motorists who drive less than the average annual mileage. Usually, motorists who drive less than 7,500 miles per year qualify for low mileage discounts on their car insurance. However, what counts as low mileage varies from company to company. Hence, you may need to make inquiries to see the auto-insurance low mileage discounts offered by your carrier.

Usage-Based Insurance

Generally, driving less than the annual average may bring about 3% savings on insurance. However, other insurance policies may bring up to a 15% discount. One of such policy is usage-based insurance. This allows the use of telematics devices that monitor the average number of miles driven.

Usage-based insurance went on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic as many car owners could no longer drive to public events. Commuting to and from work also reduced drastically as many people now work from home and rarely go out. This insurance method saved motorists money as their vehicles were not being used and also helped insurers offer needed tips on vehicle maintenance based on their actual mileage.

How Does Average Annual Mileage Affect Car Sale and Purchase?

Over the decade, the average annual mileage across states has increased by about 4000 miles. This increase in the number of miles driven per year has largely influenced the choice of Americans in cars. The average American wants a fuel-efficient car that’ll save some cost on commute or an electric one.

Average mileage also impacts car value. Usually, car depreciation is estimated in number of years. However, the average mileage of a car also influences its price. Some experts say depreciation is about $0.08 a mile or about 1% of the car value as at when due for every 1000 miles. A vehicle with a high mileage record will likely cost less than one with minimal mileage.

Ultimately, average miles driven per year is important to motorists, insurance companies, and everyone in-between.

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