FHWA Says Nation’s Vehicle Mileage Continues Historic Climb for 18th Month

AASHTO Journal, 6 November 2015

journal_nation1162015.pngThe Federal Highway Administration said its latest monthly “Traffic Volume Trends” report showed vehicle traffic on U.S. roadways reached 277.3 billion miles in August, a 2.3 percent gain from a year earlier and the most for any August on record.

That continues a trend of vehicles miles traveled growing on a year-over-year basis for 18 consecutive months and puts 2015 VMT on a pace to be the highest ever. The estimates include passenger vehicle, bus and truck travel.

Until recently, some analysts had predicted that long-term traffic volume trends were on the decline due to population attitudes shifting in favor of other forms of transportation.

Instead, the sustained increase in vehicle mileage is, said the FHWA, “furthering calls to increase federal investment in transportation infrastructure as demands on the nation’s highway system grow.”

Annual traffic patterns show a summer peak in roadway traffic; August traditionally shows a decline from July traffic levels and this year was no different. FHWA data shows vehicle miles declined some from July’s nearly 284 billion, even as the August traffic continued to outpace year-earlier volume.

In addition, on a seasonally adjusted basis, August VMT at 263.3 billion was up 3.6 percent from a year earlier.

The FHWA said the increases that month came in all five geographical regions. The 12-state North Central area had the greatest total VMT volume with a 1.5 percent year-to-year gain. The biggest increase was 3 percent in the South Gulf region, followed by 2.9 percent for the South Atlantic states.

The underlying data tables and monthly charts are available here.

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