Wednesday, December 22, 2010

October Traffic Volume Sets New Record; Five Straight Months of Traffic Above 2007 Levels

The Federal Highway Administration reported today that travel on all roads and streets in the U.S. increased by +1.9% in the month of October compared to the same month last year. Total travel for the month of October was estimated at 259.5 billion vehicle miles, the highest travel volume ever for the month of October.  The October increase in traffic was the fifth consecutive monthly increase compared to the same month last year, and the seventh increase in the last eight months. For the last five months starting in June, traffic volume this year was higher than the comparable pre-recession months in 2007. 

On a moving 12-month total basis, the annual vehicle-distance traveled through October 2010 was 2,995 billion miles, the highest 12-month total since July 2008, almost two and-a-half years ago (see chart).

Following a sharp decline in U.S. traffic volume (moving 12-month basis) that started in late 2007 and ended at a cyclical low in May 2009, traffic volume has been gradually increasing as both personal and commercial travel on U.S. roads and highways have rebounded (see graph above).  The sustained and ongoing improvements in vehicle miles since the summer of 2009, along with a record-high volume for the month of October, indicate that the economy recovery is real and gaining momentum.


At 12/22/2010 12:00 PM, Blogger Benjamin Cole said...

I don't understand the text vs. the chart. If Oct. 2010 was the highest traffic month ever, why does Oct. 2007 look much higher?

At 12/22/2010 3:16 PM, Blogger Xieouyang said...

Am I missing something here? Neither the rate of change nor the level are above the prior to 2008 data. The chart must go with a different story.

At 12/22/2010 4:00 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

Please note that the first part of the post refers to MONTHLY travel in the single month of October compared to the same month in 2009, 2008, 2007, etc. This part of the analysis is NOT graphed.

The second part of the post, based on another way the Federal Highway Administration reports the traffic data, is for the moving 12-month total for annual vehicle distance traveled. The chart is based on those data.

At 12/22/2010 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is increasingly going to be a weak indicator of economic activity, as the internet is about to greatly bring down traffic miles, ie large structural changes are coming. Telecommuting is going to take off in the next decade, so most people who now work desk jobs will work from a home office instead. Bye bye, rush hour traffic. :)


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