Despite high gasoline prices, Americans drove more in January — largely due to the unseasonably mild winter. The Federal Highway Administration says in a report released late Friday that Americans drove 1.6 percent more miles in January — or 3.5 billion miles — compared with January 2011.
Overall Americans, drove 224.8 billion miles in January.
It’s the second straight month that driving rose compared to the same month a year earlier.
In Michigan, drivers logged 1.2 percent more miles in January.
The increase comes as travel on U.S. roads fell to its lowest level since 2003.
Last year, U.S. drivers logged 35.7 billion fewer miles over 2010 — down 1.2 percent — to 2.963 trillion miles. That’s the fewest number of miles since Americans drove 2.890 trillion miles in 2003.
Stubbornly high gas prices and an economic slowdown since 2008 have convinced some Americans not to drive as much.
In Michigan, driving was up 2.1 percent in December to 8.04 billion miles traveled.
Overall, driving fell faster in the second half of 2011, down 1.4 percent, versus a 1 percent decline in the first half.
The U.S. surpassed the 2 trillion miles traveled in a single year mark in 1988 and 3 trillion in 2006. The federal report is based on continuous hourly traffic count data at 4,000 traffic counting locations nationwide.
As drivers log fewer miles, some are opting not to buy new cars. Americans are holding onto their vehicles longer.
The average length of ownership of vehicles that were purchased new has risen to a record 71.4 months, or nearly six years, said automotive research firm Polk.
For consumers who purchased used vehicles, the average length of ownership is nearly 49.9 months. Combined, new and used vehicle owners are holding on to vehicles for an average of 57 months.
For new and used owners, the length of vehicle ownership among U.S. consumers has increased 23 percent since the third quarter of 2008, coinciding with the economic downturn.
Overall, the average of all vehicles on the roads stands at 10.8 years — the highest ever recorded. By contrast, the average age of the fleet was just 8.4 years in 1996.