October Driving Greater Than in 2019


Americans drove 0.6 percent more miles in October 2022 than the same month in 2019, according to data released yesterday by the Federal Highway Administration. This is the second month in a row and the twelfth month in all that driving exceeded pre-pandemic levels since the pandemic began.

Driving exceeded 2019 miles in 26 states, while it fell short in 24 states and DC. The states that saw the greatest increase in driving, relative to October 2019 miles, were South Dakota (22.6%), Arizona (18.8%), Rhode Island (17.6%), Montana (15.4%), Missouri (11.2%), and South Carolina (11.1%). States that are still furthest from full recovery include California (-8.7%), Massachusetts (-8.0%), Delaware (-8.0%), Pennsylvania (-7.4%), and Maryland (-6.1%). Also, DC is -12.6%.

Rural driving increased in all roads. Urban driving increased on interstate freeways, collectors, and local streets, but not on non-freeway arterials. This was enough to keep total urban driving slightly less than in October 2019. The results vary by state, of course.

October’s growth in driving relative to before the pandemic isn’t as impressive as September’s, when driving was more than 4 percent greater than in 2019. This is largely due to differences in the number of work days in each month. September 2022 had 21 work days, while September 2019 had only 20, giving 2022 an advantage. Meanwhile, October 2019 had 22 work days while October 2022 had only 20. Considering this, it was remarkable that October 2022 managed to surpass October 2019’s miles of driving.

Note: See previous posts at The Antiplanner for information about data from Amtrak and transit and air travel.

This piece first appeared at The Antiplanner.

Randal O'Toole, the Antiplanner, is a policy analyst with nearly 50 years of experience reviewing transportation and land-use plans and the author of The Best-Laid Plans: How Government Planning Harms Your Quality of Life, Your Pocketbook, and Your Future.

Chart: The Antiplanner