Californians love their cars. So, how do I know this?
Even at the more conservative of the two numbers, that’s a minimum of 1.25 statewide registered cars and light-duty trucks for every licensed in-state driver. I’m serious! Translated, that’s 22 million licensed drivers. That’s more drivers than some states have people.
It is not the number of drivers that I find most interesting – it’s the number of motor vehicles available to Golden State motorists; outnumbering them by a factor of 1.25 to 1. That’s 10 motor vehicles for every eight drivers.
Even without those five-and-a-half million “extra” automobiles, Californians record over 300 billion driving miles yearly using 15 billion gallons of gasoline to do so.
I don’t know what you make of this, but what it tells me is that an average 681.81 gallons of gas is consumed by a cohort of thirsty automobiles used in getting all California drivers to and from destinations yearly – and that’s at minimum.
Extra automobiles, extra miles, extra expense
It’s one thing to have on hand a contingent of so-called “back-up” vehicles at the ready. It’s something else entirely to rack up vehicle miles traveled (VMT) the way motorists in California do – that is, in unparalleled fashion.
What we’re talking about here is, individually, California drivers are averaging a bloated 13,636 miles annually. This compares nationally to an average per-capita per-annum VMT of 9,363. That is 4,273 miles driven over the nationwide average or almost 1.5 times what the typical American driver is driving. And think of all the extra expense required to allow this to happen.
But, it isn’t just this.
Add to this California drivers in using the automobile as their primary means of transportation, are only averaging a miles-per-gallon fuel economy rating of 20 (mpg) per vehicle. One must take into account what is attributing to this relatively low rating and that is congestion delay.
The Texas Transportation Institute in its 2012 Urban Mobility Report declared that motorists in two regions – Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana (LA-LB-SA) and San Francisco-Oakland (SF-O) – experience a yearly average 61 hours of delay. This is the equivalent of a work-week-and-a-half’s worth of time stuck in traffic.
In monetary terms, that means an additional 27 and 25 gallons of fuel consumed in 2011 by area automobiles in LA-LB-SA and SF-O, and corresponding congestion costs of $1,300 and $1,266, respectively.
Moreover, respectively, travel delay was reported to be 501,880,000 hours and 155,157,000 hours in LA-LB-SA and SF-O resulting in the corresponding collective fuel-consumption amounts of 219,710,000 gallons and 64,509,000 gallons all for a combined 657,037,000 hours of delay and 284,219,000 gallons of fuel wasted.
Add in the unnecessary negative environmental (air) impact and it is not too difficult to see what the effect of all of this waste is.
As a state, can we do better?
I think more than enough time, money and gas, has been wasted already, don’t you?
Images (3rd and 4th from top): NASA
– Alan Kandel