Highway report shows where Americans rack up the miles
In 2011, people drove more than 84.7 billion miles on California interstate highways. That's more than 900 times the distance from Earth to the Sun, and it makes the Golden State's highways the nation's busiest. Overall, our nation's interstate highways saw vehicles traveling 2.95 trillion miles in 2011. That's nearly double the number of highway miles traveled in 1980.
You can find these data and more in the Federal Highway Administration's “U.S. Interstate Traffic Volume Analysis.” In addition to State totals, the report released last week also shows vehicle miles traveled on individual highways. America's busiest interstate? Not surprisingly, it's California's I-5, which saw drivers rack up 21.4 billion miles in 2011. In fact, the nation's next two busiest highway segments are also in California--the I-10 and I-110--and the Los Angeles section of I-405 leads the way among city highways.
While these facts might help you impress your friends or score some points in a trivia contest, for State DOTs and highway planners, they are much more valuable. Knowing where vehicles are traveling helps highway departments focus their resources more effectively. As U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Better information means cities and states can more efficiently target congestion and help people get home from work faster.”
The new analysis also indicates "Mean Pavement Roughness" for each roadway, and that can help planners prioritize highway maintenance for improved safety and reduced bottlenecks. As FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez said, “Analysis of the nation’s traffic patterns and areas of changing traffic volume will lead to safer, less congested roads and greater mobility for all Americans.”
Improved safety and increased mobility--that's what DOT is all about, and the FHWA's Interstate Analysis is one more tool to help us work toward those important goals.
You can see data for your state in the FHWA's Interstate Brief.