U.S. drivers log 3 trillion miles; highest since ’07

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Americans drove 3.02 trillion miles in 2014, up 1.7 percent over 2013 and the highest number driven since 2007, fueled by a sharp decline in oil prices.

The figure was the second highest since the government began collecting data 79 years ago. In the late 1980s, Americans were driving just 2 trillion miles a year. The record in 2007 was 3.03 trillion miles. But per capita and per vehicle driving has declined in recent years.

“Americans are driving their cars at near-record levels, and being stuck in traffic is costing drivers an average of nearly five days a year,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “To ensure this problem doesn’t get worse, greater innovations and investments are needed. We can’t keep treating America’s 21st-century traffic needs with 20th-century solutions.”

Drivers in December 2014 logged 251.4 billion miles, the highest level for any December since data collection began in 1939 — up 5 percent.

All states recorded traffic increases in December. At 10.5 percent, Indiana led with the largest single-state traffic increase compared to the same month a year earlier, followed by Oklahoma at 9.3 percent and Montana at 8 percent. Michigan was fourth, up 7.9 percent, to 8.28 billion miles, or about 600 million miles.

“Data like these are critical to helping federal and state transportation leaders understand the challenges facing American drivers,” said Deputy Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. “The nation’s growing demand on roads and bridges underscores what we have been saying — increased investment is needed if we are to keep our roads from becoming parking lots.”