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Data Dashboard: Vehicle Miles Traveled


Vehicle Miles Traveled

Trend at a Glance

At last count

28 miles traveled daily per capita

Current Through

December 2013



What does this measure?

Vehicle miles traveled is the annual number of miles traveled by personal and commercial vehicles on Wake County roads and highways. Both citizens and governments can benefit when fewer vehicle miles are traveled, as fewer miles traveled results in less wear on local roads, decreased roadway congestion, and reduced carbon emissions. Reducing miles traveled also contributes to a higher quality of life, as it means citizens are spending less time in cars and less money on roadway maintenance, fuel, and vehicle maintenance.

Vehicle miles traveled is in part a factor of the organization and infrastructure of the region (are employment, shopping, and service centers conveniently located to residential areas?) and public transportation systems (can a citizen elect to use public transportation options regularly?). However, it is important to remember that declining vehicle miles may also be a sign of a weakening economy, as vehicle miles traveled is also a signal that goods and services are moving around the county, that citizens are commuting to work, and that citizens are able to afford owning and operating an automobile.

How is Wake County performing?

While total annual vehicle miles has increased steadily since 1990, the number of vehicle miles traveled per capita has shown an overall decrease, dropping from an average of 31 miles traveled per day per capita in 1990, to 27 miles per day per capita in 2013.

Did you know?

Although total vehicle miles has increased annually for decades, vehicle miles traveled per capita is declining.

Data Source

Data Considerations

From 1990 to 2008, the North Carolina Department of Transportation used one process to calculate vehicle miles travelled (VMT) at the state level and a different process to calculate VMT at the county level. When summed, VMT numbers reported by counties did not match those reported by the state. In 2009, due to modifications to the Highway Performance Monitoring System required by the Federal Highway Administration, the North Carolina Department of Transportation changed its method for calculating VMT at both the county and the statewide levels. This resulted in improved consistency between state and county VMT reports but also resulted in a large jump in county level VMT from 2008 to 2009. Because a consistent methodology was used from 1990 to 2008 to calculate county VMT, the actual VMT growth trends at the county level are valid. Therefore, to account for the jump in annual county VMT numbers that occurred in 2009, county VMT numbers for years prior to 2009 were revised following the updated 2009 methodology. Both reported and revised VMT numbers are displayed on WCBTN. County level VMT data is not available prior to 1990. Please contact the North Carolina Department of Transportation with further questions.

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Data is updated:

Data is made available monthly by request from the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Data is published here biannually on or around February 15 and August 15 by Wake County Planning, Development, and Inspections.

Related Resources


Not applicable


Created at 1/3/2014 3:42 PM by Lori K. Neumeier
Last modified at 6/9/2014 4:16 PM by Lori K. Neumeier