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.