We recently tapped the U.S. Department of Transportation's Traffic Volume Trends report to use the data it provides on the total miles accumulated by Americans on the nation's roads as a measure of the health of the U.S. economy, but it occurred to us that we can also use the data to get a sense of how the overall fuel efficiency of the nation's road vehicles is changing over time!
Since the DOT's data only covers the period since January 1986, our first chart shows the number of miles accumulated by all U.S. ground-based vehicles in the 12 months prior to the reported month:
Next, we went into the U.S. Energy Information Administration's data on the amount of motor gasoline, distillate (aka "Diesel") and residual fuel oil distillate to find out how much of these petroleum products were supplied to American vehicles for each month since January 1986:
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