WASHINGTON (July 24, 2015) — New figures released by the Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that U.S. driving topped an estimated 1.26 trillion miles in the first five months of 2015.
That mark passes the previous record — 1.23 trillion — set in May 2007.
The new data, published in FHWA's latest “Traffic Volume Trends” report, a monthly estimate of U.S. road travel, show that 275.1 billion miles were driven in May alone, the most ever in May of any year. It reaffirms calls for increased investment in transportation infrastructure as demand on the nation's highway system grows, according to the agency.
The nation's driving has steadily increased for 15 consecutive months, the new estimates show.
The May 2015 report also includes seasonally-adjusted data, which enable vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) comparisons with April or any other month in any year, from the DOT'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 May 2015 were 262.1 billion miles, a 3.4 percent increase — or 8.7 billion more VMT — compared to the previous May and a .2-percent increase — or 600,000 more miles traveled — compared with April 2015. The estimates include passenger vehicle, bus and truck travel.
At 62 billion unadjusted VMT, traffic in the North Central region — 12 states including North Dakota, Ohio and Missouri — was the nation's most-traveled region for the month, representing the sixth month in a row of VMT growth for the area. The South Gulf, a region of eight states stretching from Texas to Kentucky, showed the smallest growth — rising only 3 percent, or 54.9 billion VMT, compared to the same month a year earlier.
At 9.3 percent, Arkansas led the nation with the largest unadjusted single-state traffic percent increase compared to the same month a year earlier, followed by Hawaii at 8.9 percent and Tennessee at 5.4 percent.
The new figures confirm the trends identified in “Beyond Traffic,” a DOT 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.