The death of the automobile — mourned by many drivers, but seen as a sign of progress by environmentalists and advocates of mass transit — apparently has been greatly exaggerated.
After years of stories about millennials and more recent college grads moving into the cities, eschewing drivers licenses and taking the subway to work, it turns out that Americans set a record with the number of miles they drove last year.
They put the rubber to the road for 3.148 trillion miles in 2015, eclipsing a record of 3.003 trillion miles set in 2007, the Federal Highway Administration said Monday. The federal agency also provided some context, saying that’s “roughly the same distance as 337 round trips from Earth to Pluto.”
The recession and high gas prices clearly put a crimp in driving habits, but with the economy doing better and gas prices way, way down, people have returned to the roads. The AAA said this week that nationwide gas prices had dropped to $1.71 per gallon, down from $2.28 a gallon one year ago.
The FHWA said people drove more than 264.2 billion miles in December alone. In that month driving increased in all five regions of the United States. Traffic in 13 western states, including Alaska and Hawaii, led the nation with 61.6 billion miles driven. The northeast, nine states from Pennsylvania to Maine, had the lowest count, with 38.7 billion miles of driving.