FHWA Says U.S. Roadway Traffic Sets New October High, Extends Record Run

AASHTO Journal, 18 December 2015

Once again, the latest monthly data from the Federal Highway Administration show that U.S. driving volume in 2015 continued to set record highs in October, illustrating what the FHWA said are “the growing demands facing the nation’s road system.”

The FHWA said drivers of passenger cars, trucks and buses traveled 273.5 billion miles in October, up 2.4 percent from a year earlier and the highest level of any October on record. On a seasonally adjusted basis, October’s traffic volume was up 3 percent from October 2014.

So far this year through October, U.S. motorists drove more than 2.63 trillion miles, a 3.4 percent gain from 2014.

The new data is from FHWA’s latest “Traffic Volume Trends” report that estimates U.S. road travel based on information collected from more than 5,000 continuous-count stations nationwide.

As it has been saying through the year as it announced the succession of monthly record-high VMTs, the U.S. Department of Transportation said the October figures confirm the trends identified in the USDOT’s “Beyond Traffic” report issued earlier this year.

That research publication projects a 43 percent increase in commercial truck shipments and population growth of 70 million by 2045.

The department has said the report shows the nation will need to invest significantly more in its transportation network to keep pace with the mobility needs of a growing population, rising VMT levels and the growing pressures on a transportation system from more frequent extreme weather events.

“Increased gridlock nationwide can be expected to emerge from these trends unless changes are made in the near-term.”

The new five-year FAST Act surface transportation bill makes modest increases in federal funding levels for highway programs – 5 percent the first year and about 2 percent annually for the next four years – and somewhat larger increases in transit and passenger rail programs.

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