Friday, March 18, 2016

Driving update for March 2016: Dez plus bonus gas price update

After observing that Americans are driving more in Driving update for February 2016: Pearl, I wrote that I'd wait to see if both drivers in the family were contributing:
I'll see if my wife is reinforcing the trend or bucking it when I report on Dez later this month or sometime in March.
My wife's car Dez rolled over 50,000 miles on Wednesday, March 16.  She even sent me a text with a screenshot of the odometer at 50,001 miles, which inspired my choice of illustration for this entry.  How sweet!

Dez passed 49,000 on December 6, which was 101 days earlier.  That translates into 9.9 miles/per day or 302.0 (301.98) miles per standard month.   It's a lot less than the 16.67 miles per day or 508.33 miles per standard month we drove the car between October and December, but only slightl more than both the 9.71 miles/day and 296.1 miles/standard month my wife and I drove the car between June and October.  The difference?  My wife hasn't driven to Chicago to see our daughter yet this year, cutting down her driving.  She's not the one in the family contributing to the nation driving more.

Speaking of which, Bill McBride of Calculated Risk wrote last month that Vehicle Miles Driven increased 4.2% year-over-year in December.
Travel on all roads and streets changed by 4.2% (10.6 billion vehicle miles) for December 2015 as compared with December 2014.

Travel for the month is estimated to be 264.2 billion vehicle miles.

The seasonally adjusted vehicle miles traveled for December 2015 is 268.5 billion miles, a 4.0% (10.4 billion vehicle miles) increase over December 2014. It also represents a 1.4% change (3.7 billion vehicle miles) compared with November 2015.
Here's the relevant graph.

Of course, the important statistic is how much we are driving our cars.  The last time I estimated our combined mileage was in the Driving update for December 2015: Pearl.  Then, we drove a combined average of 34.21 miles/day and 1043.42 miles/month.  This time, I'm combining Dez's 9.9 miles/per day or 302.0 (301.98) miles per month with Pearl's 15.87 miles/day and 484.13 miles/month to total 25.77 miles/day and 786.11 miles/month.  That's much less than in December and even less than August's 26.95 miles/day and 822.0 miles/month.  We are definitely doing our part to counteract the trend!

Follow over the jump for the gas price update.

When I last posted about gas prices, I wrote that the annual gas price rise had begun.  Then, the stations in my old neighborhood were selling regular for $1.66.  I decided to wait, as I thought gas should have been cheaper and thought it might even go down.  The next week proved me right, as I found those same stations selling regular for $1.50.  I filled up.  Two weeks later, which was last week, they were selling  the same grade for $1.73.  I decided I didn't need gas enough to buy and waited.  This week, the price went up to $1.78.  Given what the local price environment looked like, I decided it was a reasonable price for the time of year and filled up my tank again.

Was I right to think so?  GasBuddy says yes, as the Detroit average has been $1.96 all week.  The metro average may not be rising, but the national average is moving north of $1.98.

The wholesale environment is reinforcing the rise, as Oil-Price.Net shows yesterday's close for WTI at $40.20 and Brent at $41.54.  That's ten dollars and seven dollars higher, respectively, than they were last month, a high for the year so far.  No wonder the stock market is back in positive territory for the year.  Just hope oil doesn't go too high, or the economy will stall.  I'm expecting that to happen by early next year.

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