U.S. Drivers Traveled 3 Trillion Miles in 2015


U.S. drivers traveled a record 3 trillion miles on the nation’s roads and highways in 2015, according to statistics from the Department of Transportation.

The agency said Monday it has calculated there were 2.88 trillion miles traveled between January and November of 2015, which each month showing an increase between 2.5 and 4.9 percent over the previous year’s corresponding month.

The agency said that the number of vehicle miles traveled would top 3.1 trillion if December’s figures, which have not yet been calculated, remain even with last year’s numbers.

“Last week, the Federal Highway Administration reported that, with the data from November now in, it looks pretty clear that 2015 was a record year for Vehicle Miles Traveled,” the agency wrote in a blog post on its website.

“Even if the December 2015 data show no gain from December 2014, which is unlikely, that would put the 2015 total over 3.1 trillion,” it added. “That’s an increase over 2014 of more than 100 billion miles.”

The number of miles that are traveled on U.S. roads is closely watched because states are beginning to test taxing drivers based on how many miles they travel, instead of how many gallons of gas they buy.

The plan, known in transportation circles as Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), faces opposition in Washington, where it has been floated as an alternative to the 18.4 cents per gallon gas tax that is currently used to pay for infrastructure projects.

But Oregon and California are moving ahead with pilot mileage fee programs, and transportation advocates in Washington have suggested moving to a national mileage-based fee system as receipts from the gas tax have dwindled in recent years. But the push has little support in Congress.

The Transportation Department said Monday that the data on the number of miles that are traveled could be used to inform decisions about future transportation projects, even if Congress does not switch to a mileage fee taxation system to pay for the nation’s roads.

“The data from 2015 reaffirm the growing demands challenging the nation’s roads and underscore the value of the recently enacted FAST Act, which will invest $305 billion in America’s surface transportation infrastructure — including $226 billion for roads and bridges — over the next five years,” the agency wrote.

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SOURCE: The Hill, Keith Laing