Partial Highway Statistics for 2018 Released

Partial Highway Statistics for 2018 Released

December 06, 2019  | Jeff Davis

The Federal Highway Administration has begun publishing the voluminous tables that will eventually comprise Highway Statistics 2018 as part of the ongoing Highway Statistics Series.

Back in the old days, people had to wait for FHWA to publish the hard copy once a year, but since 1992, online versions allow viewers to select individual tables and, in many cases, download data in spreadsheet form. This also allows FHWA to post the stub of the annual page early in the process and keep adding new tables as the data becomes available throughout the year.

As such, the 2018 issue, to date, has none of the spending or revenue tables, and none of the tables relating to the number and type of vehicles on the roads, or of the number and demographics of licensed drivers.

But they do have most of the updated tables for road and bridge extent, conditions, and usage, as well as some of the safety stats and performance indicators, and some of the motor fuel tables.

This allows us to mix and match data. For example, Table HM-15 shows route-miles by system, and Table HM-48 shows lane-miles by system, which lets us calculate the average number of lanes per mile by system. Then, Table VM-3 gives us 2018 vehicle miles-traveled data by system, which also lets us break down usage by system.

2018 2018 Average 2018 Vehicles per Year per
Route-Miles Lane-Miles Lanes/Mile Million VMT Route-Mile Lane-Mile
Interstate 48,741 227,992 4.7 833,803 17,106,809 3,657,159
Other NHS 171,428 541,305 3.2 944,873 5,511,778 1,745,546
   Subtotal, NHS 220,169 769,296 3.5 1,778,676 8,078,685 2,312,083
Other Federal-Aid 808,048 1,729,710 2.1 993,085 1,228,993 574,134
   Subtotal, F-A System 1,028,217 2,499,005 2.4 2,771,761 2,695,697 1,109,146
Non-Federal-Aid 3,167,057 6,334,077 2.0 483,586 152,693 76,347
TOTAL 4,195,274 8,833,083 2.1 3,255,347 775,956 368,540

HS also divides all roads into rural and urban and reclassifies each year. (This is why the extent stats can be tricky – some years it looks like the number of total miles of rural roads went down, but how much of this is due to population sprawl reclassifying previously rural areas as urban and how much is due to roads actually being put back to gravel or otherwise taken out of service is sometimes hard to discern.)

2018 Lane-Miles 2018 Million VMT Vehicles/year per Lane
Rural Urban Rural Urban Rural Urban
Interstate 120,056 107,395 257,690 576,113 2,146,415 5,364,430
Other NHS 257,691 283,614 230,865 714,007 895,899 2,517,531
Other FAH 1,096,804 632,906 313,857 679,228 286,156 1,073,189
Non-FA 4,573,091 1,760,987 177,466 306,119 38,807 173,834

Looking at motor fuel, Table MF-21 has been updated to tell us that in 2018, 178.13 billion gallons of motor fuel were used for highway purposes in the U.S. That is basically no change from 2017’s 177.95 billion gallons. In conjunction with this, we can look at updated Table VM-202 to show us total U.S. vehicle miles-traveled was 3,240 billion in 2018, up a little from 2017’s 3,212 billion. Then we can divide one dataset into the other and divine the actual average fuel economy of vehicles currently on the road in the U.S., for the past 10 years:

Billion Billion Average
Year Gallons Change VMT Change MPG Change
2009 168.22 -1.6% 2,956.8 -0.7% 17.58 1.0%
2010 170.41 +1.3% 2,966.5 +0.3% 17.41 -1.0%
2011 168.45 -1.2% 2,946.1 -0.7% 17.49 0.5%
2012 168.35 -0.1% 2,968.8 +0.8% 17.63 +0.8%
2013 169.65 +0.8% 2,988.3 +0.7% 17.61 -0.1%
2014 176.19 +3.9% 3,025.7 +1.3% 17.17 -2.5%
2015 172.88 -1.9% 3,095.4 +2.3% 17.90 +4.3%
2016 176.89 +2.3% 3,174.4 +2.6% 17.95 +0.2%
2017 177.95 +0.6% 3,212.3 +1.2% 18.05 +0.6%
2018 178.13 +0.1% 3,240.3 +0.9% 18.19 +0.8%

The above are all national totals – but most of the HS data is broken down by state, if any readers want to see their own state’s data and compare it to other states or to national trends.

(Ed. Complaint: Looking at the past issues of HS dating back to 1946 makes us sad – every few years, FHWA used to publish a summary book that contained combined historical tables from the dawn of record-keeping to the current day. The published such Highway Statistics Summary books in 1945, 1965, 1975, 1985, and 1995. But they haven’t published one in 23 years, and while some of the annual issues since then include historical tables, not all do, and it is a royal pain to have to download 20+ spreadsheets one at a time to add data to a historical table that stopped in 1995.)

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