Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute at Ann Arbor analyzed distances driven by cars, pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and vans in the United States from 1984-2011.
Sivak found that U.S. drivers drove 2.65 trillion miles in 2011, the latest year available, down from a high of 2.77 trillion miles in 2006. In 1984, the distance driven by light vehicles stood at 1.56 trillion miles.
The study also showed that the distance-driven rates per person, per licensed driver and per household all dropped 9 percent since 2004, while the rate per registered vehicle was down 5 percent during that time.
The distance driven per licensed driver was 12,492 miles, down from 13,711 in 2004; distance driven per household was 22,069 miles, down from 24,349 in 2004.
"All of these rates reached their maxima in 2004 -- four years prior to the beginning of the current economic downturn," Sivak said in a statement.
"These reductions likely reflect, in part, non-economic changes in society that influence the need for vehicles -- such as increased telecommuting, increased use of public transportation, increased urbanization of the population and changes in the age composition of drivers. The 2004 maxima in the distance-driven rates have a reasonable chance of being long-term peaks."