Americans Continue to Hit the Road in 2022

The recovery of American road travel from the COVID-19 pandemic continues, according to recent figures from the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). February and March of this year saw more miles clocked than in the same timeframe in 2021, with year-over-year increases for February higher than 10%.

The administration’s traffic trends for February 2022 show a more than 22 billion increase in vehicle miles, or 10.6%, over February 2021. Overall travel for the month is reported at 235.7 billion vehicle miles and 276.4 miles when seasonally adjusted. The latter figure marks a 9% increase, or 22.7 billion vehicle miles, when compared to February 2021.

Seasonally adjusted numbers also show a 2.2% increase, or 5.9 billion vehicle miles, compared to January 2022. That puts travel back on the upswing as the administration recorded a 0.2% decrease in vehicle miles traveled from December 2021 to January 2022.

Cumulative travel in 2022 changed by 7.2% or 32.1 billion vehicle miles. The cumulative estimate for the year is 476.2 billion vehicle miles, according to the administration.

All five regions in the U.S. also saw upticks to road miles traveled when compared to the previous year, especially the Northeast. The Northeast experienced a nearly 15% increase in vehicle miles traveled, a total of more than 30 billion, in February 2022 when compared to February 2021.

The South Atlantic recorded approximately 56 billion miles for a more than 12% increase over February 2021 figures. North-Central saw a 7.8% increase with 47.5 billion miles traveled, and the South-Gulf an 11.8% increase with 49.5 billion miles clocked. The West’s figures rose to 52.3 billion vehicle miles, an 8% increase over the same time last year.

Figures for March 2022 weren’t quite as high but still showed increases from 2021.

The administration reports a 7.9 billion increase in vehicle miles traveled, or 2.9%, when compared to March 2021. Overall travel for the month is reported at 277.4 billion vehicle miles and 274.8 miles when seasonally adjusted. The adjusted figure marks a 2.8% increase over numbers from one year prior, but a 0.5% decrease of 1.4 billion miles when compared to February 2022.

Cumulative travel in 2022 changed by 5.6% or 40.2 billion vehicle miles. The cumulative estimate for the year is 753.7 billion vehicle miles.

The five U.S. regions continued to show increases in miles traveled in March 2022, though at lesser rates than reported one month prior. The Northeast saw a 3.3% increase with 35.3 billion vehicle miles and the South Atlantic a 5.2% increase with 63.9 billion vehicle miles recorded.  Data for the North Central region shows a 1.1% increase and 58.2 billion vehicle miles, while the West experienced a 3.7% increase and recorded 60.6 billion miles.

The chart below was provided by the FHA and features estimated vehicle miles of travel by region for March 2022 (in billions).

Region Total Travel Percentage Change
Northeast 35.3 3.3
South Atlantic 63.9 5.2
North Central 58.2 1.1
South Gulf 59.4 1.4
West 60.6 3.7

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