Regional Variations Persisted As VMT Recovered Somewhat in May

Regional Variations Persisted As VMT Recovered Somewhat in May

July 10, 2020  | Jeff Davis

This week, the Federal Highway Administration released its estimates of vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) on a state-by-state basis and broken down by type of road, for the month of May 2020. Total U.S. VMT was up 27 percent in May from April (the peak of coronavirus lockdowns and stay-home orders), but was still 26 percent below May 2019.

U.S. Motor Vehicle Travel (Billions of VMT)
Jan Feb Mar Apr May
2019 248.3 226.7 271.5 281.5 286.1
2020 253.7 231.7 220.1 168.3 213.2
Change +5.4 +5.0 -51.4 -113.2 -72.9
Pct. +2.2% +2.2% -18.9% -40.2% -25.5%

The April 2020 estimates showed variation in the levels of reduced VMT (from the April 2019 estimates) based on population density – the highest-density states like Connecticut and Maryland saw their VMT reduced by almost 50 percent from April 2019, while some low-density states were at 25 to 30 percent reduction (Wyoming and Arkansas were down 26.6 percent, Montana down 31.0 percent).

The May numbers show these divergences remaining steady as lockdowns eased and VMT increased from the previous month. Connecticut, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia were down about 36 to 38 percent from May 2019, while Montana was only down 14 percent and Wyoming and Oklahoma were only down 16 percent.

There are also regional variations that defy density. Michigan and Georgia have almost identical population density (157 and 177 persons per square mile, respectively, in 2015), but their governors have chosen vastly different approaches to coronavirus. In May, Georgia’s VMT was down an estimated 23 percent versus May 2019, but Michigan’s VMT was down 36 percent from a year ago.

State 2020 VMT 2019 VMT Pct. Change
Alabama 5,393 6,523 -17.3%
Alaska 448 549 -18.4%
Arizona 5,242 6,281 -16.5%
Arkansas 2,693 3,167 -15.0%
California 21,361 28,792 -25.8%
Colorado
3,458 4,521 -23.5%
Connecticut 1,799 2,882 -37.6%
Delaware 592 872 -32.1%
District of Columbia 215 337 -36.2%
Florida 15,248 20,035 -23.9%
Georgia 9,555 12,438 -23.2%
Hawaii 437 722 -39.5%
Idaho 1,244 1,482 -16.1%
Illinois 6,643 9,443 -29.7%
Indiana 5,335 6,998 -23.8%
Iowa 2,438 3,038 -19.7%
Kansas 2,190 2,732 -19.8%
Kentucky 3,410 4,411 -22.7%
Louisiana 3,521 4,297 -18.1%
Maine 927 1,313 -29.4%
Maryland 3,606 5,499 -34.4%
Massachusetts 3,666 5,806 -36.9%
Michigan 5,640 8,808 -36.0%
Minnesota 4,079 5,468 -25.4%
Mississippi 2,942 3,627 -18.9%
Missouri 5,227 6,632 -21.2%
Montana 911 1,062 -14.2%
Nebraska 1,449 1,857 -22.0%
Nevada 1,872 2,587 -27.6%
New Hampshire 834 1,184 -29.6%
New Jersey 4,697 7,062 -33.5%
New Mexico 1,890 2,446 -22.7%
New York 7,684 11,631 -33.9%
North Carolina 8,270 11,272 -26.6%
North Dakota 635 810 -21.6%
Ohio 7,448 10,054 -25.9%
Oklahoma 3,151 3,749 -16.0%
Oregon 2,429 3,237 -25.0%
Pennsylvania 6,287 9,020 -30.3%
Rhode Island 489 696 -29.7%
South Carolina 4,135 5,221 -20.8%
South Dakota 664 840 -21.0%
Tennessee 6,030 7,276 -17.1%
Texas 18,869 24,304 -22.4%
Utah 2,170 2,713 -20.0%
Vermont 404 616 -34.4%
Virginia 5,283 7,767 -32.0%
Washington 4,111 5,867 -29.9%
West Virginia 988 1,322 -25.3%
Wisconsin 4,451 5,985 -25.6%
Wyoming 742 880 -15.7%
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