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New Data Show January Driving Topped 237 Billion Miles

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

New Data Show January Driving Topped 237 Billion Miles

Federal Highway Administration
24 March 2015

FHWA 20-15
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Contact: Doug Hecox
Tel.: (202) 366-0660

Report Features Seasonally Adjusted Data to Expand Research Possibilities

WASHINGTON –The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released new estimates today showing that Americans drove 237.3 billion miles this January, a significant increase over the previous January, prompting calls for greater investment in transportation infrastructure to address projected record-setting traffic volume in coming years.

"These data make it clear that traffic volumes are growing nationwide," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "To keep our highways safe and less congested, we should not only invest in our nation's infrastructure to expand capacity, but also look towards the future by encouraging greater technological innovations, which can make travel safer and more convenient."

The new estimates underscore projections made by Secretary Foxx in "Beyond Traffic," a 30-year framework for the future of transportation, which projects a 43 percent increase in commercial truck shipments and population growth of 70 million in the next 30 years.

According to FHWA's latest "Traffic Volume Trends", a monthly report that estimates U.S. road travel, Americans drove 4.9 percent more in January 2015 than in the same month in 2014, the highest single-month increase for any January since 2000. It is the nation's 11th consecutive month of increased growth, as measured by vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT).

These estimates are based on data collected from approximately 4,000 continuous traffic counting locations nationwide that evaluate the percent change in traffic for the current month compared with the same month in the previous year.

Traffic in the North Central region comprised of 12 states, including Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, rose to 54 billion vehicle miles traveled (VMT), a gain of 7.4 percent over the previous January and the second consecutive month of increased traffic for the area.

All states recorded traffic increases in January, except for five: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, which is likely due to unusually high snowfall in those states. At 12.1 percent, Indiana led the nation for the second month in a row with the largest single-state traffic increase compared to the same month a year earlier, followed closely by Colorado at 9.3 percent and Alaska at 9.1 percent.

"These estimates are a central part of the research we conduct to understand and anticipate changing conditions on our roads and bridges," said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. "Increased demand on America's interstate system requires long-term infrastructure investment to ensure our nation can compete globally."

For the first time, the January 2015 report also includes seasonally adjusted data to enable VMT comparisons with January and any other month in any other year. 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.

To review the VMT data in FHWA's "Traffic Volume Trends" reports, which are based on information collected from more than 2,000 road-mounted sensors nationwide, visit https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/travel_monitoring/tvt.cfm.

Secretary Foxx's draft report "Beyond Traffic" can be viewed at http://www.dot.gov/BeyondTraffic and the viewing public is invited to share ideas at http://www.dot.gov/BeyondTraffic/ShareYourIdeas.

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