Did you know that, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, in 2011 American drivers drove 2.95 trillion miles on U.S. roads? As just a number it’s a bit difficult to put in perspective, so let’s compare it to a few familiar things. The distance from the Earth to the moon is 238,900 miles. The distance from the Earth to the sun is 92,960,000 miles.
What Do These Numbers Mean Then?
So, if you traveled from the Earth to the sun 900 times, you still wouldn’t travel as many miles as U.S. drivers did in just one year. Sure, we all think we drive a good amount every day, but when you add up the amount of miles we all travel in a year, the number is astounding. On top of that, we aren’t even factoring in the amount of miles people in other countries are driving every year- and there are a lot of other countries in the world!
Seeing these statistics it’s easy to see why so many people are urging the use of green vehicles and green technology. Furthermore, when you look at this map of where people are most likely to die of air pollution, it can be a bit disheartening.
To put these statistics into perspective even more, the number of miles traveled by Americans in 2011 was only the eighth-highest level recorded. Which means there are seven other years where we, as a country, drove more than 2.95 trillion miles in just one year. Kind of makes you think about taking public transportation or carpooling more often, doesn’t it?
What Does It Look Like at State Level?
What states have the busiest roads and the most miles driven? Let’s take a look:
- California – 84.7 billion miles – While California may be the third largest state in the country, it definitely tops the list as the state with the busiest highways/roads. Perhaps those that live in California would agree, seeing as they are the ones stuck traveling on the packed highways. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration’s reports show that I-5 in California was the busiest highway in the country in 2011 with 21.4 billion miles driven.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that I-10 and I-110 in California were the second and third busiest highways as well. Come rush hour, we’d like to wager they’re not the best place to be!
- Texas – 55.7 billion miles – Again, Texas is a pretty large state- the second to be exact- so it shouldn’t be too surprising that it is the state with the second busiest highways. However, it is nearly 30 billion miles under California. If we had the choice, we’d probably rather drive in Texas. Although, the scenery may be much better in California.
- Florida – 3.47 billion miles – Florida is the 22nd largest state in the U.S., so it is somewhat surprising to see it near the top of the list here. Could it be all of the vacationers driving around the state all year long? Or perhaps it could be that Florida is considered the “retiree” state and houses nearly double the amount of people during the winter than in the summer? Remember those snowbirds? We don’t know the concrete reasons as to why so many people are driving in Florida, but the fact remains: they certainly do drive a lot.
The rest of the list goes like this:
- Ohio – 31.4 billion miles
- Illinois – 31.033 billion miles
- Georgia – 28.467 billion miles
- Virginia – 24.062 billion miles
- Pennsylvania – 23.662 billion miles
- North Carolina – 21.241 billion miles
- Michigan – 20.707 billion miles
It may not seem like a lot of miles considering the number of people living in the U.S. (311,591,917), but when you put it in perspective we are traveling nearly 1,000 times more than the distance from Earth to the sun in just one year.
Perhaps next time you want to drive your car from one end of the country to the next, or even just a few states over, think about shipping your car rather than driving it. It can save you tons of time and energy, and can save our planet some smog as well.