Our friend Tory Gattis pointed out yesterday at Houston Strategies that conventional wisdom (and the US DoT Federal Highway Administration) are wrong. Quoting a recent report by New Geography contributor Wendell Cox:
In fact, this data is incorrect. The FHWA 2006 data indicates that the Houston urban area has a population of 2,801,000. According to the United States Bureau of the Census, the population of the Houston urban area was 4,353,000 in 2006.... Actually Houston’s driving is about average: If the urban area population is corrected to agree with the Bureau of the Census data, per capita driving in the Houston area is slightly below the national average for large urban areas. Houston would rank 19th out of 38 urban areas, with daily per capita driving of 23.2 miles, compared to the national average of 23.9 miles.
Even if you're not interested in Houston or that potential gaffe, check out Wendell's report for a table of per capita vehicle miles driven for 38 urbanized areas over 1,000,000 population.