Low Gas Prices Drive Americans to Travel Record Miles

Holiday Travel Forecast
Ross D. Franklin/AP
By Jessica Resnick-Ault

NEW YORK -- U.S. drivers took advantage of low gasoline prices because of a drop in oil prices, traveling a record number of miles in the first five months of the year, according to government data.

Travel on streets and roads rose in May by 2.7 percent from a year ago to 275.1 billion vehicle miles, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The mileage is the most recorded in a single month since 1990, when the agency started tracking the data.

The seasonally adjusted vehicle miles traveled for May 2015 rose 3.4 percent to 262.1 billion miles. It represents a 0.2 percent rise from April. The greatest increase in driving was seen in the South-Atlantic states.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-The dual combination of cheaper gas prices and a stronger economy are motivating millions of Americans to drive more.%"The dual combination of cheaper gas prices and a stronger economy are motivating millions of Americans to drive more," said Michael Green at AAA, the motorist advocacy organization. "We've seen demand up for every month of the year, but it seems like it's spiked even more as we've entered the summer months and people are taking vacations."

The miles-traveled data is an important indicator of Americans' driving behavior for oil traders, who track gasoline demand closely.

Gasoline demand in May averaged 9.1 million barrels a day, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.

U.S. gasoline prices during the month were about $2.77 a gallon, the lowest price for the month in at least four years.

U.S. gasoline prices were $2.75 a gallon Thursday, down from $3.57 a year earlier. Americans are likely to pay the lowest annual average gasoline price in 2015 in at least five years, AAA's Green said.
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