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Lower Gas Prices Lead to Record Number of Drivers in 2016

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author photo by Lindsay Martell September 2016

Bemoaning the traffic? You can partly blame low gas prices for the record number of drivers on the road.

According to new data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), motorists in the U.S. drove a record-breaking number of miles in the first half of 2016.

Staggering Mileage

U.S. driving hit 1.58 trillion miles in the first 6 months of this year -- up 3.3 percent from the same period in 2015.

What does 1.58 trillion miles look like? It's the equivalent of 250 round trips from Earth to Pluto.

The previous record, which was set in 2015, was 1.54 trillion miles logged by drivers in the first half of the year.

A whopping 282.3 billion miles were driven this June alone (perhaps a kickoff for summer road trips?), indicating a slight increase from June 2015.

Cheap Gas, More Jobs

A combination of factors has helped boost driving in the United States, including cheaper gas prices, reduced unemployment and more fuel-efficient vehicles on the roads.

In June of this year, drivers across all five regions of the U.S. logged significant increases in mileage. In the West, stretching 13 states from California to Montana plus Hawaii and Alaska, traffic jumped by 4.1 percent -- the largest increase nationwide. The Northeast, the 9-state stretch from Pennsylvania to Maine, had the smallest mileage increase at 2.4 percent.

Roads, Bridges Need Attention

With an increasing amount of folks getting behind the wheel, the FHWA says that the nation's roads need serious attention, and it reaffirms the importance of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which is investing $305 billion in America's surface-transportation infrastructure, including $226 billion for roads and bridges until 2020.

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Lower Gas Prices Lead to Record Number of Drivers in 2016 - Autotrader