When driving in the U.S., the biggest cost comes when you’re not behind the wheel.
Parking represents the largest-single expense for vehicle owners, according to study results released Monday by Seattle area based INRIX, a leading company in transportation analytics and connected car services, including a real-time service that predicts the availability of on-street parking.
The average U.S. driver faced $10,288 total driving costs in 2017, composed of direct expenses such as the amounts for buying or leasing a vehicle, depreciation, maintenance, fuel and insurance. The total also reflects indirect costs such as lost time, burned fuel and carbon emissions while idling in traffic congestion and other expenses.
Roughly one-third of the total cost, or more than $3,000, was racked up by a combination of parking fees and fines, driving around looking for parking or paying for more parking time than necessary, the study found.
Some of the hardest hit were vehicle owners and other drivers in major urban centers, led by those in New York City, one of 30 cities in the U.S., United Kingdom and Germany that were examined by the study.
New York City drivers faced $18,926 in direct and indirect driving costs during 2017, with parking-related expenses accounting for 46% of the total. Average drivers in New York City parked more often — 10 times a week — paid more frequently for parking — 60% of the time — and paid the most — $28 for two hours of off-street parking citywide — the study found.
“It’s quite surprising to me that the costs are that high,” said Graham Cookson, INRIX’s chief economist, who also noted that a New Yorker could pay for “a cheap meal” with the $28 burned up by two hours in a parking garage.
Parking-related costs “makes motoring very expensive,” and “imposes a high cost on drivers and the economy,” Cookson added.
Although total driving costs represent a heavy financial burden by any measure, motorists in some U.S. cities nonetheless had relatively lower expenses, the study found.
Drivers in Detroit fared best. They faced $10,203 in total driving costs during 2017, including $1,715 in direct and indirect parking costs, largely due to lower cost on-street and off-street parking rates.
In Dallas, drivers shouldered $10,841 in overall driving expenses last year, a total that included $1,933 in parking costs.
The $10,288 in total U.S. driving costs U.S. motorists faced in 2017 was higher than the $8,239 the study found for United Kingdom drivers and the $9,341 overall expense for drivers in Germany, the study showed.
However, U.S. drivers hit the road for an average of 13,746 miles last year, compared with 8,708 miles for U.K. motorists and 6,865 for German drivers. As a result, U.S. drivers faced a per-mile cost of 98 cents, lower than the $1.20 comparable cost in Germany and the $1.27 expense in the U.K., the study showed.
INRIX based the findings on data collected from electronically connected devices in vehicles. The company’s calculations used U.S. Federal Highway Administration data and IRS mileage rates that can be reclaimed when using a vehicle for business purposes.