The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) reported that U.S. vehicle miles traveled (VMT) increased for the first time in 16 months in April, but AAA has projected that the weak economy and increasing unemployment will drive down traffic during Fourth of July weekend normally the busiest travel time of year.
Total VMT for April were 249.5 billion, compared to 248.1 VMT for April 2008 a 0.6-percent increase. In addition, the FHA reported that all regions of the country saw either higher or the same VMT as last year, but cumulative VMT for the fist four months of 2009 is 1.1 percent lower than it was for the same four months last year.
But thanks to ongoing economic uncertainty, AAA predicts that Fourth of July travel will drop 1.9 percent from 2008, with an expected 37.1 million travelers hitting the road and driving an average 614 miles round trip. This decrease is despite gas prices that are “substantially lower” than last year, when prices skyrocketed to nearly $4 a gallon and Fourth of July travel dropped 10 percent compared to 2007.
“Many Americans remain cautious about the outlook for their personal finances and these attitudes are reflected in the slight decline in travel we’re forecasting,” said AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet.
Click HERE for more information about VMT.
Click HERE for more information about Fourth of July travel projections from AAA.