American drivers put more miles on our roadways in 2023 than ever before, according to data released Thursday from the Department of Transportation Federal Highway Commission's Traffic Volume Trends study. With over 3.263 trillion miles traveled by Americans last year, the United States has finally topped the pre-pandemic levels of travel from 2019.
According to the report, U.S. roadways saw a 2.1 percent jump in travel during 2023, equating to an increase of 67.5 billion miles over 2022. It marks the first time that the U.S. has passed the 3.261 trillion mile figure set back in 2019, ahead of the pandemic dramatically reducing travel. In fact, 2020 saw the lowest yearly total of driven miles since 2003, with just 2.9 trillion.
The rate of travel has consistently increased since the early lockdowns, with a notable jump to 3.14 trillion miles starting in 2021. With more companies and government agencies growing less accepting of remote work over the course of 2023, it's not shocking to see such a notable increase in driven miles, particularly compared to the pandemic era.
The cost of fuel also likely played a role in the increased amount of driving in 2023, with the average retail price for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline falling to just $3.52 a gallon, according to the Department of Energy. That figure represents a drop of $0.43 when compared to the average fuel cost in 2022.
Traffic deaths have also started to drop from the 2021 high, with a 4.5 percent reduction through the first three quarters of 2023. The empty roadways and seemingly lower levels of enforcement during the pandemic are clearly a thing of the past, so perhaps it's time we get back to behaving like it on the roadways. Especially with people driving more than we ever have before. Be safe out there.
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