• March Total US Vehicle Miles Jump to Revisit Pre-Pandemic Levels: US Data

  • March Total US Vehicle Miles Jump to Revisit Pre-Pandemic Levels: US Data

    Total U.S. vehicle-miles in March soared to a 15-month high, returning for the
    first time to levels last seen before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,
    according to the latest Traffic Volume Trends data compiled by the
    U.S.Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

    Total March U.S. vehicle miles, which measure travel on all public roads and
    streets, totaled 263.0 billion, the largest since December 2019 when the total
    was 272.2 billion, according to FHWA data.

    March's total includes 79.6 billion vehicle miles on rural roads, and 183.3
    billion on urban roads and streets. February's total comprised 60.7 billion
    vehicle miles on rural roads and 144.7 billion on urban roads and streets.

    On a seasonally adjusted basis, March's U.S. vehicle miles were 261.1 billion,
    representing a 6.2% gain over those in February 2021, the largest monthly gain
    since June of last year.

    Higher U.S. vehicle miles were boosted by sharp gains in all five regions
    monitored by the FHWA, with the Northeast surging by more than one third to33.9
    billion in March versus 25.2 billion in February.

    Seasonally adjusted March's vehicle miles at 261.1 billion, however, were
    behind the 271.5 billion in March 2019, FHWA data show. Seasonal adjustments
    involve estimating and removing regular seasonal factors to make smoother
    month-to-month comparisons.

    According to OPIS DemandPro data, U.S. average gasoline volumes in March 2021
    on a same-store basis were up 2.3% versus March 2020 levels.

    Versus March 2019 (two years ago), however, March 2021 same-store sales were
    16.7% lower, according to OPIS data.

    The marked increase in March U.S. vehicle miles reflects the robust U.S.
    coronavirus vaccination program and sharply lower overall COVID-19 cases, which
    prompted more Americans to travel and spend on vacation trips after living
    under pandemic restrictions for a year.

    Continued success in vaccination and ongoing decreases in COVID-19 infections,
    at least for April and May, should bode well for vehicle miles for the rest of
    2021.

    According to the latest OPIS Demand Report that surveys more than 25,000 gas
    stations across the country, average U.S. station gasoline volumes for the week
    ending May 15 were off by only 6.6% from the same week in 2019. During the
    week, gasoline demand in the Southeast was 0.3% higher than two years ago, the
    only region to be positive versus the same week in 2019.

    Traffic Volume Trends is a monthly report based on hourly traffic count data
    collected at about 5,000 continuous traffic-counting locations nationwide and
    submitted by all 50 states, according to the FHWA.

    --Reporting by Frank Tang, ftang@opisnet.com; Editing by Michael Kelly,
    michael.kelly3@ihsmarkit.com



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