Amanda Drago
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Car Miles Traveled Increased by 55 Percent in April 2021

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A family by a car packed with luggage

According to the Federal Highway Administration, Americans drove about 55 percent more miles in April 2021 than they did during the same month last year. This increase suggests that many drivers feel comfortable taking road trips again and that many have returned to the office.

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How has car travel changed in the past year?

In April of this year, drivers traveled about 256.5 billion miles, compared to 166 billion miles in 2020. While this is certainly a major increase year over year, the miles driven in April 2021 still fall short of the roughly 277 billion miles driven in April 2019 — the highest amount recorded within the last 25 years.

The region with the greatest traffic increase year over year was the Northeast at 62.1 percent. The area with the smallest increase was the South-Gulf region at 49.5 percent. When looking at the seasonally adjusted miles traveled, Americans drove 248.6 billion miles in April 2021, which is about 57 percent higher than in the previous April. However, it is still 4.7 percent lower than in March 2021.

Americans also drove an average of 5.9 billion miles on urban highways and 2.65 billion miles on rural highways daily in April 2021. Both of these figures are down from 2019 but up from 2020. As revealed in the 2010 census, urban boundaries have grown, which is part of the reason why travel on its highways is still so much greater than travel on rural highways.

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With these major changes in traffic volume year over year, it’s clear that more Americans are returning to the roads for work, play, and everything in between. However, given that some companies will keep offering more work-from-home opportunities than they did prior to the pandemic, vehicle miles traveled and commute travel times may continue to be lower than they once were.