August 6, 2020
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The Federal Highway Administration released new data on March 21 showing total U.S. vehicle miles traveled or VMT reached a record-setting 3.225 trillion in 2018 – an increase of 12.2 billion miles compared to 2017.

[Above photo by FHWA.]

FHWA’s latest “Traffic Volume Trends” report also showed that 2018 is the fifth year in a row to top 3 trillion VMT.

Demand for cargo and delivery services are also setting records, the agency noted. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, in December 2018, its Freight Transportation Services Index ended 2.9 percent higher compared to December 2017 and 9.8 percent higher compared to December 2016.

USDOT Secretary Elaine Chao

“Record-setting vehicle-miles traveled reflects a robust economy, lower gas prices and is another reason to ensure that America’s roads and bridges are well-maintained and modernized to improve safety,” noted U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in a statement.

The rise in VMT is also occurring simultaneously with a decrease in highway fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted in October last year that highway fatalities dropped by 673 or almost 2 percent when compared to 2016’s figures, even as VMT increased 1.2 percent from 2016 to 2017.

That downward trend continued into early 2018 as a statistical projection of traffic fatalities for the first half of that year by NHTSA showed a decrease in fatalities of 540 or about 3.1 percent as compared to the first half of 2017.

However, if those trends held throughout the year, experts forecast fatalities will total just over 34,000 for all of 2018.

editor@aashto.org

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