(News Release: February 28, 2019)—

If you think you’re spending more time in your car, you’re right. The time we spend or squander sitting behind the steering wheel each year equates to the time it takes to drive from Washington D.C. to San Francisco twice, explains the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Americans spend an additional 20 minutes driving around each week compared to 2014, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Over the course of the year, Americans collectively spent 70 billion hours behind the wheel-an eight percent increase since 2014. Each week, drivers travel more than 220 miles.

Add it up and Americans drive an average of 11,498 miles each year- which is equivalent to making four road trips from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco in a year. Or think of it this way: it is like making two roundtrip drives from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco in a year. It is 2,811.6 miles one way, taking 43 hours in the driving seat, tabulates the AAA Mid-Atlantic TripTik Travel Planner. Drivers 75 and older are spending 23 percent more time at the wheel compared to 2014, according to the new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

“The more time drivers spend behind the wheel, the greater their exposure to risks on the roadway” said Dr. David Yang, executive director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Longer time behind the wheel could lead to issues such as fatigue, distraction, and impatience for drivers, which are all contributing factors for vehicle crashes. Drivers need to stay alert and focused on the key task at hand, driving. This can save your life and the lives of your passengers and people with whom you share the road.”

The AAA Foundation’s American Driving Survey shows that on average, U.S. drivers spend nearly an hour driving and operating a vehicle each day and they travel 31.5 miles- a five percent increase from 2014.

On the road again. Using different calipers, the average driver in and around Washington, D.C. lost 155 hours per year in the driver’s seat in terms of time wasted due to congestion delays during 2018, according to annual Global Traffic Scorecard from INRIX. The national capital area ranks second on the list of the “10 Most Congested Urban Areas in the U.S.” All that lost time spent being stuck in traffic and staring at taillights is costing the area economy $4.6 billion, or an average of $2,151 per local driver during 2018. Continuously and repeatedly over a long period of time, gridlock is costing the USA $87 billion in terms of congestion costs during 2018, or an average of $1,348 per driver, according to INRIX.

“Year-in, year-out, Washington area residents marvel at how many days a year they waste stuck in traffic, as well as the daily miles of vehicle travel they rack up on their odometers over a year’s time. Each Washington area resident lost the equivalence of 23 work days stuck in traffic in 2018. Day-in, day-out, Washington area residents bear the brunt of 20 million trips, with half of those daily trips occurring during rush hour,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “Approximately half of all delays across the Washington metro area are attributed to non-recurring congestion caused by events such as collisions, disabled vehicles, work zones, weather and special events.”

Despite ranking second on the list of the “most congested urban areas,” the national capital area did not top the list of the regions with the worst corridors. “Surprisingly, Washington D.C., number two in the most congested cities ranking, does not have any corridors that appear on the list,” explains INRIX. “Despite extreme levels of congestion, traffic is diffusely across the region and concentrated to a high degree on major arterials.”

Other survey findings show that:


  • Men spend 19 percent more time behind the wheel and drive 27 percent more miles than women.
  • People who are married or living with a partner spend at least 12 percent more time driving than those who are not.
  • Drivers aged 75+ are spending, on average 34.8 minutes a day driving- a 23 percent increase from 2014.


  • Drivers in the West spend the most time driving (58.9 minutes per day), followed by drivers in the Northeast (51.1 minutes), South (49.9 minutes) and Midwest (44.5 minutes) regions.
  • The number of individuals who report driving in the Midwest region dropped three percent, while the number of drivers in the Northeast, South and Western regions increased or remained the same.

The new results are part of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s American Driving Survey, which reveals the driving habits of the American public. The survey data are from a representative sample of 11,804 drivers who provided information about their driving on randomly selected days between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2017.

About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.

About AAA: AAA provides more than 59 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 34 motor clubs and nearly 1,100 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.

AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to 59 million members nationwide and nearly 80,000 members in the District of Columbia. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, non-profit corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.

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