U.S. travel up 1.2 percent in October

The number of miles traveled by drivers in the United States continued to slowly climb in October, according to the latest Traffic Volume Trends report from the Federal Highway Administration. Connecticut traffic was largely unchanged from the previous year, while Rhode Island saw a significant uptick in cars on the road.

The reports on traffic volume include passenger vehicles as well as buses and heavy trucks. In October, drivers traveled an estimated 274.99 billion miles – up 1.2 percent from the previous year.

The seasonally adjusted travel total was up 0.8 percent to 268 billion miles. Drivers traveled an estimated 2.69 trillion miles in the first 10 months of the year, while the 12-year moving total stood at 3.2 trillion miles.

October's report estimates that drivers in Connecticut traveled 2.86 billion miles during the month. This was a marginal increase of less than one-tenth of 1 percent. Travel on urban arterial roads held steady at 2.1 billion miles, while rural arterial travel climbed 0.7 percent to 141 million miles.

In Rhode Island, overall travel jumped 7 percent from 576 million miles to 716 million miles. This was the largest year-over-year jump among all states, although it fell behind the District of Columbia's annual travel increase of 8.4 percent. Rhode Island's urban arterial travel jumped 7.7 percent to 444 million miles, while its rural arterial travel was up 7 percent to 616 million miles.

In the Northeast region—which includes the New England states, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania—the cumulative travel total stood at 38.02 billion miles. This was up 1.1 percent from October 2016.

The most significant travel increase occurred in the 13 states of the Western region, where travel rose 2.5 percent to 62.12 billion miles. In the South Atlantic region, which includes eight states stretching from Maryland to Florida as well as the District of Columbia, the travel total of 59.52 billion miles marked a year-over-year increase of 1.8 percent.

Drivers in the South Gulf region, eight states ranging from Kentucky to Texas, drove an estimated 54.19 billion miles – up 0.5 percent from the previous year. In the North Central region, which includes 12 states from Ohio to North Dakota, the travel total rose only marginally to 61.14 billion miles.

After the District of Columbia and Rhode Island, South Carolina had the third most significant single state travel increase. Drivers in this state traveled an estimated 4.5 billion miles, a year-over-year increase of 6.8 percent. Other states with large boosts in travel included Oregon (up 4.7 percent to 3.25 billion miles) and Nevada (up 4.3 percent to 2.45 billion miles).

Ten states had a year-over year decrease in travel. Louisiana had the most precipitous drop, with vehicle miles falling 6.2 percent to 3.73 billion miles. In Missouri, travel fell 1.7 percent to 5.95 billion miles. Travel decreases in other states ranged from 0.1 percent to 1.3 percent.

The FHWA Travel Volume Trends reports are based on information from thousands of continuous traffic counting stations across the nation. The report for October included data from 4,942 stations, including 19 in Connecticut and 56 in Rhode Island.


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