New estimates released today by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that U.S. driving topped 3.2 trillion miles last year. It is the fifth straight year of increased mileage on public roads throughout the nation, and underscores the demands facing America’s roads and bridges, and reaffirms calls for greater investment in surface transportation infrastructure.
The new data, published in FHWA’s latest “Traffic Volume Trends” report—a monthly estimate of U.S. road travel—show that more than 263.6 billion miles were driven in December 2016 alone, which is a .5% increase over the previous December.
The December 2016 report also includes seasonally adjusted data, which is conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics as a way to even out seasonal variation in travel and enable vehicle miles travelled (VMT) comparisons with any other month in any year. The seasonally adjusted VMT for December 2016 were 269.3 billion miles. Compared with seasonally adjusted November 2016 data, December 2016 VMT fell slightly by .6% but rose .6% from December 2015. The estimates include passenger vehicle, bus and truck travel.
At 2.9%, traffic in the West—a 13-state region stretching from California to Montana, and including Hawaii and Alaska—led the nation with the largest percentage increase in unadjusted VMT, and continued an uninterrupted series of monthly increases that began in October 2013. Mileage fell slightly in the Northeast and North Central states.
At 33.9 billion VMT, California accounted for more miles driven in December 2016 than the combined 33.8 billion miles of 22 states—Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming—and Washington, D.C.
At 5.8%, Louisiana led the nation with the largest unadjusted single-state traffic percent increase compared to the same month a year earlier, followed by Utah at 5.2% and Nevada at 5.1%. At 6.2%, for the tenth month in a row, North Dakota led the nation with the largest unadjusted traffic decrease for the month.