By Eileen Houlihan, senior writer/editor, ARTBA
American motorists drove 50.5 billion more miles, or 3.3 percent farther, in the first six months of 2016 compared to the first half of 2015, when vehicle miles traveled for the year hit a record over 3.1 trillion miles, according to the latest data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. June vehicle travel alone was up 8.6 billion miles, or 3.2 percent, from June 2015, the data showed.
But the increase in travel has come with a price, the National Safety Council (NSC) said separately this week. Motor vehicle deaths for the first six months of the year totaled 19,100, a 9 percent increase from the same period in 2015, and an 18 percent jump from the corresponding 2014 period.
The NSC said many factors likely contributed to the fatality increase, including a stronger economy and a lower unemployment rate, but added, “average gas prices for the first six months of this year were 16 percent lower than 2015 levels, helping to fuel a 3.3 percent increase in the number of miles driven.”
The data was released ahead of the U.S. Labor Day holiday weekend in early September, which the NSC said is likely to be “the deadliest Labor Day since 2008.”