STUDY: Over Half of US Drivers are Filling Their Gas Tanks Less Than Once a Month

The Team
The Team

Study findings:

  • Our survey of 787 US residents found that 58% are now filling their gas tank up less than once a month during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders.
  • Over 82% of US drivers are filling their tank up less than twice a month.
  • Prior to the pandemic, the average US driver filled up their car about once a week, leading to an almost 75% decrease in consumer gas purchases.
  • Most US residents expect a sustained decrease in their driving routines as work from home policies and travel plans have shifted for the remainder of the year for many people.

Like a run to the grocery store, mowing the lawn, or vacuuming the house, filling up the car’s gas tank was a weekly chore for most Americans before the COVID-19 pandemic. Driving the kids to school, commuting to work, weekend getaways, and any other common reasons for driving led to the average American using somewhere around 650 gallons of gas a year.

With the average gas tank being somewhere between 12-15 gallons for most vehicles, we were all filling up between 45-55 times a year. That was before COVID-19 stay-at-home orders parked millions of Americans inside their homes with nowhere to routinely drive over the past three months.

When removing commuting to work, transportation to and from social functions and other leisure activities, school drop-offs, and other non-essential driving, the need to put gas in the car drastically decreases.

We wanted to get a sense for just how much of a decrease there has been. In order to get a clear picture, we took a national survey of 787 drivers in the United States and asked them how often they are currently putting gas in their car as compared to pre-COVID-19 lockdowns.

When we asked for anecdotes about the expectation of what the future of driving might look like, we found that many people believe even when stay-at-home orders relax or are lifted, most people do not believe their driving habits will return to pre-pandemic levels, at least for the remainder of 2020.

Many large companies have stated they will allow employees to work from home for the remainder of 2020, which has downstream effects on other employers and people who would be commuting to those jobs as well.

Alternatively though, one type of driving that might see an increase in the short term is domestic travel. As airports and flying continue to be ravaged by COVID-wary travelers, many people still plan on more local trips to destinations that can be reached easily by car.