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US traffic levels on the up

Americans drove three trillion miles in 2010, the most vehicle miles traveled since 2007 and the third-highest ever recorded, US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced this week. The increase in traffic volume comes as the US in 2009 posted its lowest number of traffic fatalities and injuries since 1950.

“More driving means more wear and tear on our nation’s roads and bridges,” LaHood said. “This new data further demonstrates why we need to repair the roads and bridges that are the lifeblood of our economy.”

The Secretary noted that Americans drove 0.7% more or 20.5 billion additional vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 2010 than the previous year. Travel increased by 0.6%, or 1.4 billion VMT, in December 2010 compared to the previous December. It is the tenth consecutive month of increased driving.

The new data, from the Federal Highway Administration’s monthly Traffic Volume Trends report, show the South Gulf area – a block of eight states ranging from Texas to Kentucky – experienced the greatest regional increase in December 2010 at 46.6 billion VMT, an increase of 624 million miles traveled compared to the previous December.

With an increase of 11.1%, or 156 million additional miles traveled, Nebraska led the nation with the largest single-state increase that month, and rural driving outpaced urban driving across the country.

“These data are critical to identifying and evaluating patterns of use on America’s road system, which help us to make decisions about investments in critical infrastructure,” said FHWA administrator Victor Mendez. “Repairing our nation’s roads, bridges and tunnels will help us ensure safety, strengthen the economy and build for the future.”

March 4, 2011

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