Motorists hitting the roads in record numbers

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 11/24/2015

If the nation’s roadways seem busier than usual, it may be because motorists are using them more than ever before. The Federal Highway Administration is reporting that U.S. drivers logged in 259.9 billion miles in September, the most miles traveled in September of any year, according to an FHWA press release.

The 4.3 percent increase compared with a year ago is the largest single-month increase since January’s 4.9 percent increase. September marks the 19th consecutive month of monthly mileage increases.

The most miles driven, 52 billion, were in the eight-state South Gulf region that includes Texas, Mississippi and Kentucky. Traffic in the Northeast accounted for the least amount of miles driven at 38.7 billion. Michigan experienced the largest percent increase with 7.6 percent more miles driven when compared with September 2014.

According to AAA, nearly 47 million Americans will be traveling during the Thanksgiving holiday, a 0.6 percent increase compared with last year and the most since 2007. This year will be the seventh consecutive year of increases for Thanksgiving travelers.

Low fuel prices may be a factor for the increase in travelers. AAA is also reporting the lowest gas prices during Thanksgiving weekend since 2008. More than half of gas stations in the U.S. have pump prices below $2, according to an AAA press release.

More people on the road can also lead to worse congestion in some of the nation’s busier areas. The American Highway Users Alliance released a study on Monday, Nov. 23 identifying the country’s worst bottlenecks. Measured by hours of delay, Interstate 90 between Interstate 290 and Interstate 94 in Chicago was named the worst traffic bottleneck in the United States. Los Angeles secured the next six spots in the top 10 list.

Titled “Unclogging America’s Arteries 2015,” the study highlights the need for a long-term transportation funding bill. The study determined that if the top 30 bottlenecks can be fixed, nearly $40 billion in lost time and 830 million gallons of fuel will be saved during a 20-year period. More than 17 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced and 211,000 crashes would be prevented as well, according to the study.

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