Profile America -- Sunday, May 12th. It seems like a simple device, really -- that a row of numbers on the speedometer that measures how far your car has traveled since it was new, or how many miles you've covered on a trip. Called an odometer, it was used for the first time on this date in 1847 by a Mormon pioneer named William Clayton, who was crossing the plains in a covered wagon. Up until his invention, elapsed miles were calculated by tediously counting the revolutions of a rag tied to the spoke of one of the wagon's wheels. Today, most of us regularly drive a lot of miles. Smaller cars, light trucks, vans and SUVs average nearly 10,500 miles annually. Larger vehicles cover more than 15,000 miles a year. Trucks drive about 26,000 miles on average each year. You can find more facts about America's people, places and economy from the American Community Survey at <www.census.gov>.
Sources: Statistical Abstract of the United States 2012, t. 1101