After four consecutive reports of month-over-month total vehicle travel increases, the Federal Highway Administration recently released preliminary data for October 2009 indicating a sharp 0.54% decline compared to 2008.
The October 2009 decline caused year-to-date travel to fall from positive 0.28% at the end of September to positive 0.20% at the end of October. The rolling 12-month travel total is still down 0.35% year-over-year.
Estimated at 250.783 billion miles, 2009 mileage is the lowest October total since 2002. In addition, the October 2008 travel total represented a 3.59% decrease compared to 2007, so October 2009 represents a 4.11% loss in travel compared to the levels reported before the economic downturn.
Geographically, mileage changes were mixed. The South Atlantic and West both posted positive travel changes of less than 1% year-to-year. In the West, this was due almost entirely to a 1.2% travel increase of California, which accounts for about half of the region’s mileage.
The South Gulf, Northeast and North Central regions posted travel decreases of 1.17%, 1.16% and 1.28%, respectively, for the month.
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