The Most (& Least) Car-Dependent Cities [+ Miles per Driver]

FREE Car Insurance Comparison

Compare quotes from the top car insurance companies and save!

Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Getting a driver’s license used to be a right of passage for 16-year-olds. But increasingly, more teens are putting off getting their licenses.

According to data from the Federal Highway Administration, fewer than 26 percent of 16-year-olds were licensed drivers in 2018, down from 44 percent in 1980.

This phenomenon is part of a general shift in America’s car culture—auto sales have been declining for the last few years and there has been an increase in other forms of transportation, such as ride-sharing, bike share, and scooters.

Chart showing U.S. auto and light truck sales over time decline

While the country as a whole continues to rely heavily on cars, a new trend towards less car dependency is emerging among certain demographics. In addition to fewer teen drivers, more Americans are working from home. Between 2010 and 2018, the share of home-based workers increased from 4.3 to 5.3 percent, while the share of car commuters decreased from 86.3 to 85.3 percent.

Despite the decline in auto sales and increased popularity of alternative modes of transportation, America remains a global leader when it comes to driving.

Compared to Western European countries, the U.S. is more car-dependent for a variety of reasons, including its size, suburban sprawl, less expensive gas, and underdeveloped public transportation. In many U.S. cities, driving a car is practically a necessity to get to work, school, or the grocery store.

Car-dependency varies widely across cities and states, depending on public transportation options, geography, bikeability, walkability, and culture. Nebraska and North Dakota claim the top two spots in the country for average annual miles per driver, with drivers in these states driving an average of 15,390 and 14,393 annual miles, respectively. The national average is 11,621 miles. Alaskan residents drive the fewest, at just over 8,000 miles annually.

Miles per driver by state with Nebraska and North Dakota leading the nation

To determine the most car-dependent cities in the U.S., our researchers here at CompareCarInsurance.com analyzed data from the Federal Highway Administration’s National Household Transportation Survey and the U.S Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Major metropolitan areas with over one million residents were ranked according to the average annual miles per driver. The researchers also calculated the average annual miles per vehicle, the share of workers who commute by car, and the share of workers in households with two or more vehicles available.

Car parking lot under bridge

Alamy Stock Photo

The most car-dependent locations tend to be sprawling metropolitan areas with less developed public transportation systems. In addition to having higher average annual miles per driver, the most car-dependent metros tend to have higher annual miles per vehicle, more workers who commute by car, and larger shares of workers in households with 2 or more vehicles.

Many of the least car-dependent metros, such as New York, San Francisco, and Boston, have well-developed public transportation systems and a large number of people living in their urban cores. Other less car-dependent metros, including Seattle and Portland, are more bike-friendly and walkable. These metros tend to have fewer car commuters and fewer households with 2 or more vehicles available.

In this article, we will cover the 20 most and least car-dependent metros in the United States.

The 10 Most Car-Dependent Metros

MemphAerial skyline of Memphis, Tennessee with view of downtown and Mud Island.

Alamy Stock Photo

#1 – Memphis, TN–MS–AR

  • Average annual miles per driver: 14,959
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 11,389
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 95.0%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 73.9%

TRENDING
The vehicle you drive is one of the most important factors in determining your car insurance premium. Use our website to find car insurance rates for popular vehicles like the Dodge Charger or Honda CRV.


Nashville, TeDowntown city skyline of Nashville, Tennessee with bridge over water at dusk..

Alamy Stock Photo

#2 – Nashville–Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN

  • Average annual miles per driver: 14,745
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 11,262
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 90.2%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 80.6%
Devon Energy Tower in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma during summer with blue sky.

Alamy Stock Photo

#3 – Oklahoma City, OK

  • Average annual miles per driver: 14,287
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 13,203
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 91.7%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 78.3%
Downtown St. Louis, Missouri with the Old Courthouse and the Gateway Arch at sunrise with blue sky..

Alamy Stock Photo

#4 – St. Louis, MO–IL

  • Average annual miles per driver: 14,114
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 12,216
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 90.5%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 77.2%
Downtown Richmond, Virginia, cityscape view from the Capitol Building grounds.

Alamy Stock Photo

#5 – Richmond, VA

  • Average annual miles per driver: 13,632
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 12,284
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 89.8%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 79.5%
Skyline of Charlotte, North Carolina at dusk with clouds in sky.

Alamy Stock Photo

#6 – Charlotte–Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC

  • Average annual miles per driver: 13,398
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 11,578
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 88.6%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 78.5%
DeOld recycled pharmaceutical factory building on Iron Street in Detroit, Michigan during winter with blue sky.

Alamy Stock Photo

#7 – Detroit–Warren–Dearborn, MI

  • Average annual miles per driver: 13,347
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 12,841
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 91.8%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 76.1%
Cincinnati, Ohio skyline with historic John A. Roebling suspension bridge cross Ohio River.

Alamy Stock Photo

#8 – Cincinnati, OH–KY–IN

  • Average annual miles per driver: 13,260
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 11,697
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 89.8%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 78.6%
Downtown city skyline of Jacksonville, Florida at John T. Alsop Jr. Bridge on St. Johns River with blue sky.

Alamy Stock Photo

#9 – Jacksonville, FL

  • Average annual miles per driver: 13,073
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 11,928
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 88.7%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 75.7%
Virginia Beach boardwalk at dawn with bench on sunny day..

Alamy Stock Photo

#10 – Virginia Beach–Norfolk–Newport News, VA–NC

  • Average annual miles per driver: 12,996
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 11,694
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 89.7%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 77.1%

RELATED
Regardless of your situation, we can help you find the right car insurance policy for you. Our research team has put together everything you need to know about specialty insurance policies like car insurance for first-time drivers or weekly car insurance.


The 10 Least Car-Dependent Metros

Aerial view of ferry with Seattle, Washington skyline with clouds in sky.

Alamy Stock Photo

#1 – Seattle–Tacoma–Bellevue, WA

  • Average annual miles per driver: 8,400
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 9,191
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 76.1%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 74.3%
Subway trains in the Hudson Yards with Manhattan skyline in New York.

Alamy Stock Photo

#2 – New York–Newark–Jersey City, NY–NJ–PA

  • Average annual miles per driver: 8,801
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 10,699
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 56.5%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 51.7%
Santa Clara Station at Valley Transportation Authority Light Rail Route in downtown San Jose, California.

Alamy Stock Photo

#3 – San Jose–Sunnyvale–Santa Clara, CA

  • Average annual miles per driver: 8,931
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 10,134
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 85.6%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 81.5%
Historic traditional cable cars riding on famous California Street during summer morning light at sunrise in San Francisco, California.

Alamy Stock Photo

#4 – San Francisco–Oakland–Hayward, CA

  • Average annual miles per driver: 9,376
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 10,526
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 66.8%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 69.5%
Aerial tram overlooking Portland, Oregon with green trees and gray skies.

Alamy Stock Photo

#5 – Portland–Vancouver–Hillsboro, OR–WA

  • Average annual miles per driver: 9,491
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 10,221
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 79.2%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 75.7%

DID YOU KNOW?
When buying a new car, you are required by law to have insurance at the time you become the vehicle owner. Depending on the situation, young drivers can be covered under their parents’ insurance.


Aerial view of Las Vegas Strip in Nevada with Luxor Hotel at night with lights.

Alamy Stock Photo

#6 – Las Vegas–Henderson–Paradise, NV

  • Average annual miles per driver: 9,545
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 11,402
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 88.5%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 73.1%
Rachel Carson Bridge (aka Ninth Street Bridge) over Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with clouds in sky and blue water.

Alamy Stock Photo

#7 – Pittsburgh, PA

  • Average annual miles per driver: 9,571
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 9,535
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 84.9%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 73.3%
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania alley in fall with colorful brownstone houses and yellow leaves.

Alamy Stock Photo

#8 – Philadelphia–Camden–Wilmington, PA–NJ–DE–MD

  • Average annual miles per driver: 9,611
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 12,007
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 79.6%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 70.6%
Aerial view of Boston, Massachusetts with Atlantic Ocean and blue sky.

Alamy Stock Photo

#9 – Boston–Cambridge–Newton, MA–NH

  • Average annual miles per driver: 9,717
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 11,623
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 73.1%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 69.2%
Downtown skyline of Chicago, Illinois at dusk with sunset and Lake Michigan.

Alamy Stock Photo

#10 – Chicago–Naperville–Elgin, IL–IN–WI

  • Average annual miles per driver: 9,946
  • Average annual miles per vehicle: 10,658
  • Share of workers who commute by car: 77.8%
  • Share of workers in households with 2+ vehicles: 70.4%

Methodology of Findings

To find the most and least car-dependent metropolitan areas, researchers at here CompareCarInsurance.com analyzed data from the Federal Highway Administration’s 2017 National Household Travel Survey and from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey.

Car dependency was measured by the average annual miles per driver. Researchers also calculated the average annual miles per vehicle, the share of workers who commute by car, and the share of workers in households with two or more vehicles available.

Only large metropolitan areas with over one million residents were included in the analysis.

Complete Results by City

Metro AreaAvg. Annual Miles (Per Driver)Avg. Annual Miles (Per Vehicle)Percentage of CommutersHouseholds with 2+ VehiclesPopulation (2018)Rank
Memphis, TN-MS-AR14,95911,38995.0%73.9%1,350,6201
Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN14,74511,26290.2%80.6%1,930,9612
Oklahoma City, OK14,28713,20391.7%78.3%1,396,4453
St. Louis, MO-IL14,11412,21690.5%77.2%2,805,4654
Richmond, VA13,63212,28489.8%79.5%1,306,1725
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC13,39811,57888.6%78.5%2,569,2136
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI13,34712,84191.8%76.1%4,326,4427
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN13,26011,69789.8%78.6%2,190,2098
Jacksonville, FL13,07311,92888.7%75.7%1,534,7019
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC12,99611,69489.7%77.1%1,728,73310
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA12,94012,01986.1%76.8%5,949,95111
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX12,80912,33590.4%77.6%6,997,38412
Grand Rapids-Wyoming, MI12,79812,16791.1%81.3%1,069,40513
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX12,71412,30390.4%79.1%7,539,71114
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN12,48011,97090.7%77.1%1,297,30115
Birmingham-Hoover, AL12,37311,79993.6%80.7%1,151,80116
Austin-Round Rock, TX12,34111,81585.7%77.8%2,168,31617
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA12,27410,97190.7%86.0%4,622,36118
Cleveland-Elyria, OH12,27212,03489.4%73.4%2,057,00919
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI12,04712,71985.5%79.8%3,629,19020
Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD11,96111,11284.9%75.0%2,802,78921
New Orleans-Metairie, LA11,95911,73087.8%69.2%1,270,39922
Rochester, NY11,94111,74388.8%75.6%1,071,08223
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ11,91410,50187.0%77.2%4,857,96224
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI11,82911,29189.0%74.3%1,576,11325
San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX11,82111,11790.4%78.0%2,518,03626
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA11,69611,18489.8%77.3%1,621,33727
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT11,65310,09188.9%76.8%1,206,30028
Salt Lake City, UT11,6409,69186.5%81.9%1,222,54029
Raleigh, NC11,63111,57687.9%80.0%1,362,54030
Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN11,5549,77891.4%77.8%2,048,70331
Columbus, OH11,43211,23389.5%77.5%2,106,54132
Kansas City, MO-KS11,29811,73591.6%79.1%2,143,65133
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO11,27010,74283.2%78.6%2,932,41534
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV11,09210,45975.0%71.9%6,249,95035
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL10,98612,47987.9%74.0%3,142,66336
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA10,95510,72484.5%77.2%13,291,48637
Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL10,83912,04690.7%75.6%2,572,96238
San Diego-Carlsbad, CA10,66611,09885.2%80.3%3,343,36439
Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY10,32511,53588.9%70.6%1,130,15240
Sacramento--Roseville--Arden-Arcade, CA10,12710,99485.7%80.5%2,345,21041
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL10,10110,82486.9%72.9%6,198,78242
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI9,94610,65877.8%70.4%9,498,71643
Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH9,71711,62373.1%69.2%4,875,39044
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD9,61112,00779.6%70.6%6,096,37245
Pittsburgh, PA9,5719,53584.9%73.3%2,324,74346
Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV9,54511,40288.5%73.1%2,231,64747
Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA9,49110,22179.2%75.7%2,478,81048
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA9,37610,52666.8%69.5%4,729,48449
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA8,93110,13485.6%81.5%1,999,10750
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA8,80110,69956.5%51.7%19,979,47751
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA8,4009,19176.1%74.3%3,939,36352
Get Your Rates Quote Now

Complete Results by State

StateAvg. Annual Miles (Per Driver)Avg. Annual Miles (Per Vehicle)Percentage of CommutersHouseholds with 2+ VehiclesPopulation (2018)Rank
Nebraska15,39012,35790.8%81.2%1,929,2681
North Dakota14,39310,49490.9%79.6%760,0772
Alabama14,06211,11594.2%80.0%4,887,8713
Missouri13,81810,95690.7%77.7%6,126,4524
Tennessee13,77011,56492.0%79.8%6,770,0105
New Hampshire13,51511,47788.2%82.6%1,356,4586
Oklahoma13,18812,56592.0%78.4%3,943,0797
Wyoming13,17310,52785.9%82.8%577,7378
Minnesota13,14712,02186.1%80.4%5,611,1799
Georgia13,03011,94088.8%76.8%10,519,47510
South Dakota12,95510,42689.8%81.1%882,23511
Ohio12,70211,07490.6%77.5%11,689,44212
Texas12,69512,01690.5%78.1%28,701,84513
Kentucky12,68412,27791.8%78.5%4,468,40214
Wisconsin12,60911,51889.2%79.2%5,813,56815
Virginia12,58911,05485.8%79.0%8,517,68516
Michigan12,58811,80390.9%77.5%9,995,91517
North Carolina12,54011,39090.0%78.3%10,383,62018
Mississippi12,50111,60794.4%77.9%2,986,53019
South Carolina12,41611,33490.9%77.4%5,084,12720
Iowa12,41510,57189.7%81.2%3,156,14521
Utah12,3419,62586.9%84.9%3,161,10522
Indiana12,33810,60291.8%78.2%6,691,87823
Connecticut12,01410,39586.1%76.2%3,572,66524
West Virginia11,99311,89091.8%75.5%1,805,83225
Louisiana11,95511,51091.8%72.6%4,659,97826
Kansas11,94310,34391.3%80.7%2,911,51027
Arizona11,78510,42987.1%76.8%7,171,64628
Maine11,66211,39687.7%78.8%1,338,40429
Vermont11,60710,88684.4%78.0%626,29930
Maryland11,58811,37983.2%75.4%6,042,71831
Pennsylvania11,39110,75884.0%73.0%12,807,06032
New Mexico11,36510,55490.5%77.7%2,095,42833
Arkansas10,91510,13593.1%78.2%3,013,82534
Florida10,90611,62288.4%74.7%21,299,32535
Colorado10,79810,14883.5%80.0%5,695,56436
California10,67110,79383.8%78.9%39,557,04537
Montana10,6078,82884.4%82.0%1,062,30538
New Jersey10,50911,26979.0%71.4%8,908,52039
Delaware10,50212,33788.7%79.0%967,17140
Illinois10,43910,69080.9%72.1%12,741,08041
Massachusetts10,29510,94377.2%70.9%6,902,14942
Rhode Island10,02411,54489.4%77.4%1,057,31543
Idaho9,82510,02488.7%82.1%1,754,20844
Oregon9,5079,63281.2%76.7%4,190,71345
Washington9,4549,64980.7%78.0%7,535,59146
District of Columbia9,21910,62339.3%31.2%702,45547
Hawaii9,16911,35982.0%76.5%1,420,49148
New York9,08211,08759.4%52.1%19,542,20949
Nevada9,00610,81688.7%74.7%3,034,39250
Alaska8,0118,68980.3%73.5%737,43851
Get Your Rates Quote Now

Are you looking for free insurance quotes?

Your one-stop online Car Insurance guide. Get a Free Quote Now!