American Drivers Are Back on the Road in Record-Setting Fashion

An expanding economy and dramatically cheaper gas prices have lured Americans back onto the roads, where they’re racking up record mileage, new data shows. U.S. vehicle-miles traveled surged 4.3% in November 2015 compared with November 2014, the largest increase since 1999, according to the Transportation Department. That put 2015 on pace to become the most heavily traveled year in history. In the 12 months leading up to November, drivers covered 3.14 trillion miles, up 3.6% from the same period in 2014, the highest year-over-year increase since 1997, according to the department. For decades, the number of miles driven reliably increased every year as a growing population and greater access to cars pushed more people on the roads. That changed in 2008, as the recession took hold. Overall vehicle-miles traveled dropped in 2008 and 2009 and struggled to rebound. But a labor market that added roughly 221,000 jobs a month last year and gas prices that skirted the $2-per-gallon mark have all but ensured that 2015 will set a new high point.

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