U.S. driving hits historic high in year's first half
New estimates released by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that U.S. driving topped 1.54 trillion miles in the first half of 2015, beating the previous record – 1.5 trillion, set in June 2007. This is more than double the amount driven during the same period in 1981, continuing a trend of America’s driving mileage doubling nearly every generation.
The new data, published in FHWA’s latest “Traffic Volume Trends” report, a monthly estimate of U.S. road travel, show that 275.13 billion miles were driven last June, the most ever in June of any year and the highest VMT for the first half of any year – reaffirming calls for increased investment in transportation infrastructure as demand on the nation’s highway system grows.
According to FHWA’s Traffic Volume Trends report, the nation’s driving has increased for 16 months in a row.
The June 2015 report also includes seasonally-adjusted data, which enable VMT comparisons with May or 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 June 2015 were 261.9 billion miles, a 3.4 percent increase – or 8.7 billion more VMT – compared to the previous June and a .1 percent decrease – or 2 million more miles traveled – compared with May 2015. The estimates include passenger vehicle, bus and truck travel.
At 63.1 billion unadjusted VMT, traffic in the North Central – 12 states including North Dakota, Ohio and Missouri – was the nation’s most-traveled region for the month representing the seventh consecutive month of VMT growth. The Northeast, a region of nine states stretching from Pennsylvania to Maine, showed the smallest growth – rising only 1.1 percent, or 38.8 billion VMT, compared to the same month a year earlier.
At 10.8 percent, Hawaii led the nation with the largest unadjusted single-state traffic percent increase compared to the same month a year earlier, followed by Colorado at 7.8 percent and Montana at 7.5 percent.
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.
To review the VMT data in FHWA's "Traffic Volume Trends" reports, which are based on information collected from more than 5,000 continuous count stations nationwide, visit http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/travel_monitoring/tvt.cfm.