Feds: US drivers break mileage record

Feds: US drivers break mileage record

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) said Thursday that U.S. residents have driven a record number of miles in the first half of 2015. 

The agency said drivers have traveled 1.54 trillion miles between January and June, topping a previous record of 1.5 trillion miles that was set in 2007. 

The figure is more than double the number of miles driven by U.S. residents in 1981, according to the agency. 

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"The new data, published in FHWA’s latest 'Traffic Volume Trends' report, a monthly estimate of U.S. road travel, show that 275.13 billion miles were driven last June, the most ever in June of any year and the highest VMT for the first half of any year — reaffirming calls for increased investment in transportation infrastructure as demand on the nation’s highway system grows," the agency said in a statement. 

The finding comes as lawmakers are debating the future of federal transportation funding. 

Congress attempted to pass a multiyear transportation bill before lawmakers left Washington for their traditional August recess, but the House and Senate failed to come to an agreement on a package. 

Instead, lawmakers approved a temporary patch that extended transportation funding that was scheduled to expire on July 31 until only Oct. 29. 

The popularity of driving has been central to debates about the amount of transportation funding that should go to public transportation projects. 

Transit advocates have argued that U.S. residents — particularly younger ones — are driving less often and choosing to live in places that offer transit access. 

Highway advocates, meanwhile, have complained about road funding being diverted to public transportation projects under a provision of federal law that requires the federal government to set aside 20 percent of gas tax revenue for transit. 

Transit supporters have resisted efforts to change the 80-20 highway-transit funding split, which was first put in place in the Reagan administration. 

The highway administration said Thursday "according to FHWA’s Traffic Volume Trends report, the nation’s driving has increased for 16 months in a row."  

The full study on U.S. driving habits can be read here