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U.S. Driving Nears 1 Trillion Miles In First Four Months of 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Nation’s Driving Increases for 14th Month in a Row

WASHINGTON – New estimates released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that Americans drove 987.8 billion miles for the first four months of the year, topping the previous record – 965.5 billion – set in April 2007.

The new data, published in FHWA’s latest “Traffic Volume Trends” report, a monthly estimate of U.S. road travel, show that Americans drove 267.9 billion vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) in April – the most ever driven in April and the highest mileage for the first quarter of any year – underscoring the need for greater investment in transportation infrastructure.

The April estimates show that the nation’s driving has increased steadily for 14 consecutive months.

The April 2015 report also includes seasonally-adjusted data, which enable VMT comparisons with March and any other month in any year, from the USDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Analysis of seasonally-adjusted VMT is an alternative to analysis of unadjusted VMT, which traditionally uses comparisons of a month to the same month in previous years to determine trends.

The seasonally-adjusted vehicle miles traveled for April 2015 were 262.4 billion miles, a 3.7 percent increase – or 9.5 billion more VMT – compared to the previous April and a 1.1 percent increase – or 2.9 billion more VMT – compared with March 2015. The estimates include passenger vehicle, bus and truck travel.

At 60.9 billion unadjusted VMT, traffic in the West – 13 states including Alaska and Hawaii – was the nation’s most-traveled region for the second consecutive month, and the 19th month in a row of VMT growth. The Northeast, a region of nine states stretching from Maine to New Jersey, showed the smallest growth – rising only 2.4 percent, or 37 billion VMT, compared to the same month a year earlier.

At 14.8 percent, Indiana led the nation with the largest unadjusted single-state traffic percent increase compared to the same month a year earlier, followed  by Hawaii at 8.1 percent and North Dakota at 7.4 percent.

Roads in Washington, D.C., saw 1 million unadjusted VMT fewer in April 2015 than the previous April, a decline of .3 percent – the nation’s only decline that month.
The new figures confirm the trends identified in “Beyond Traffic,” a USDOT report issued earlier this year, which projects a 43 percent increase in commercial truck shipments and population growth of 70 million by 2045. The report examines the trends and choices facing America’s transportation infrastructure over the next three decades, including a rapidly growing population, increasing freight volume, demographic shifts in rural and urban areas, and a transportation system that is facing more frequent extreme weather events. Increased gridlock nationwide can be expected unless changes are made in the near-term.   

Earlier this year, the Obama Administration announced a plan – theGROW AMERICA Act” – to make critical investments to fix aging roads and crumbling bridges, and to ensure the safety of U.S. transportation systems. Sixty-five percent of America’s major roads are rated in less than good condition. One in four bridges require significant repair or cannot handle today’s traffic and 45 percent of Americans do not have access to transit. Increased transportation investments will help communities keep pace with the nation’s expanding economy, and the traveling needs of the growing public.

To review the VMT data in FHWA's "Traffic Volume Trends" reports, which are based on information collected from more than 4,800 continuous count stations nationwide, visit http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/tvtw/tvtpage.htm.

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FHWA 46-15