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Bad traffic estimates are costing us (Getty).
Governments at local, state and federal levels have been overestimating the number of miles driven by Americans for years, with very real consequences.

The estimates have been off by a wide margin for the past seven years, the Washington Post reported. For instance, the U.S. Department of Transportation forecasted Americans would drive 3.3 trillion miles in 2012, which was almost 11 percent higher than what they actually drove.

The Federal government reaches its overall estimates based on the approximations of state and local entities, according to the State Smart Transportation Initiative.

Why does overestimating miles driven matter? State and local governments allocate money for building new highways and roads based on those estimates. Funding may be lost on large highway construction projects for unrealized traffic when it could go to cheaper, walkable streets that raise property values and quality of life. States relying on taxes from gasoline sales to fund road maintenance and construction projects could also find themselves short due to the overestimates of miles driven.

Other studies have found a sharp decline in driving. Last month, the U.S PIRG compiled data from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration and U.S. Census to find commuting in private vehicles declined in 99 of the 100 largest urban areas in America since 2000. PIRG also found that the percentage of homes without cars had increased in 84 of the 100 largest markets between 2006 and 2011. The rise of telecommuting, the weak economy, aging baby boomers retiring from work and underemployed Millennials have all been cited as reasons for declining car use.



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  • 104 Comments
      flilguy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Since the year 1999 gas prices have been unstable, and crossed the $4.00 per gallon mark when Katrina hit in 2005. When gas is $4.00 a gallon people drive less.
      scottee
      • 1 Year Ago
      the government pretty much gets everything wrong. plus they are overpaid and allowed too much power.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @scottee
        and than, making a WRONG decision making, gets a big promotions with a higher pay!
      walker130
      • 1 Year Ago
      and they want control of health care.LOL
      MERLIN
      • 1 Year Ago
      all government reports are adjusted for political reasons
      zorcof
      • 1 Year Ago
      To all you young people out there, you'll realize as you get older that these politicians don't know anymore about anything then you do.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @zorcof
        I think they know exactly what their doing and they do because they want to stay in power, not to help us citizens.
      laurelphot
      • 1 Year Ago
      Interstate bridges are falling down, falling down Interstate bridges are falling down, My fat Christie
      eddieboyeddie.gibson
      Should we expect anything less form this gov't, like the unemployment rate, we all no it is a lot higher than what they report and driving is over estimated by them and they waste billions yearly without any recourse from them. Why we need this gov't is beyond me, keep the military and hire people who know how to manage money, we'ed be better off.
      Marianne
      • 1 Year Ago
      Whatever will garner the government more money is what they will "estimate" . If one mile a year made the government the most money then they'd come out with 1 mile/year estimates. Simple. Follow the money.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Allow me to again write the quote" the U.S. Department of Transportation forecasted ""Americans"" would drive 3.3 trillion miles in 2012, which was almost 11 percent higher than what they actually drove.” Does this include non-Americans, truck, train, bus, trolley, bicycle, motorcycle, go-carts, strollers, buggies, carriage, horse carts, and etc? Is your vehicle insurance "rated" accordingly to government standards, or based on area average driven miles? For the US government having wrong information, or not satisfying your needs, you elect them!
      svhtwo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Again it happens.....government lies in order to generate revenue. Our government officials CAN NOT BE TRUSTED on any level. Statics and poles are untrustworthy.
      CamaroAustin
      • 1 Year Ago
      I drive double the national average every year for recreation. I enjoy my vehicles,I spend lots of money on them and insurance and I get all of the enjoyment out of it as possible.
      member9219
      • 1 Year Ago
      So that would be why traffic conditions have improved so dramatically?
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