The good news? Cars are more fuel efficient then ever. The potentially bad news? People are driving them more than ever.

The US Department of Transportation has put out its most-recent road-mileage numbers (for 2013) and confirmed that our driving levels were the highest since 2007 and the fifth-highest on record. In 2013, the 256 million US vehicles collectively covered 2.99 trillion miles, trailing only the four years from 2005 to 2008. To put that into a broader perspective, US annual vehicle miles traveled are up about 30 percent over the past two decades. Perhaps that because our cars have more room to roam now, since total US road mileage hit an all-time high of 4.12 million miles in 2013, up almost 23,000 miles from the year before. The 2012 road miles number took a drop compared to 2011.

With gas prices falling last year while the economy was improving, US cars likely covered more than 3 million miles last year and may have set an all-time record. The upshot, of course, is that fuel-efficiency continues to be on the rise as well. 2014 model-year vehicles averaged 25.3 miles per gallon, or about 22 percent more than 2008, according to the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI). Check out the DOT's press release below.

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U.S. Driving at Highest Level Since 2007, New Data Show

Nearly Three Trillion Miles Traveled in 2013 Underscores Call for Greater Transportation Investment

WASHINGTON - New data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) show that Americans drove nearly 3 trillion miles in 2013, the highest level in six years, confirming estimates released last year and supporting calls for greater investment in roads, bridges, transit, and pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure to accommodate growing traffic volumes.

"Transportation is a critical engine of the nation's economy," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "To prepare for the needs of the 21st century, Congress needs to pass the President's GROW AMERICA Act. It would provide innovative financial assistance for infrastructure projects and increase investments to meet the growing transit needs of communities – whether urban, suburban or rural."

According to FHWA's "Highway Statistics," an annual compilation of data from state Departments of Transportation, drivers traveled 2.99 trillion miles in 2013, the highest annual total since 2007 and the fourth-highest since such recordkeeping began in 1936.

The new data also show the number of U.S. vehicles increased to 255.9 million from 253.6 million the previous year, the biggest single-year increase since 2011.

"These data are critical to helping the nation's leaders make informed decisions about critical infrastructure investments," said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Gregory Nadeau. "To ensure our roads, bridges and tunnels can keep pace with the demands of the American public, greater investment is needed – and the six-year, $478 billion 'GROW AMERICA' Act is a step in the right direction."

To review the new data in FHWA's "Highway Statistics," visit http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2013/.


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