Photo: Evan Lockridge
New estimates released by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration show that American driving between July 2013 and June 2014 is at levels not seen since 2008.
According to FHWA's "Traffic Volume Trends" report, a monthly estimate of American travel, drivers in June 2014 logged 261.7 billion vehicle-miles traveled, the highest level for any June since 2010 and the biggest single-month gain this year. It is the nation's fourth consecutive month of VMT growth.
Americans drove more than 2.97 trillion miles between July 2013 and June 2014, the most recent month for which data are available. In the first half of 2014, drivers traveled 1.466 trillion miles, the largest since 2010 and the fourth highest in the report's 78-year-history.
Traffic in the Northeast, a bloc of nine states including New York and New Jersey, rose to nearly 37 billion VMT, a gain of 0,7% over June, ending the region's seven-month decrease in vehicle traffic.
The South Atlantic region, made up of eight states stretching from Delaware to Florida, and including the District of Columbia, experienced the biggest regional single-month increase at 2% more VMT than June.
At 4.5% more VMT than the previous June, Washington, D.C., led the nation with the largest single-state increase followed closely by Tennessee, who had a 3.7% gain that month.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx used the release of the report to call for increased investment in highway spending programs.
"More people driving means our economy is picking up speed," he said. "It also means we need to increase our investment in transportation to meet this demand, which is why Congress needs to pass the President's four-year, $302 billion GROW AMERICA Act."
In August, President Obama signed the latest short-term extension of the federal highway program, starting a 10-month clock on yet another funding deadline, but Congress is still miles apart in addressing long-term funding needs.