By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

American motorists drove a record 3.148 trillion miles in 2015, roaring past the previous annual high of 3.049 trillion miles set in 2007, right before the Great Recession, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

The estimate includes passenger vehicle, bus, and truck travel. It includes more than 264 billion miles driven in December 2015 as Congress passed and President Obama signed the $305 billion “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act,” which includes $286 billion for roads, bridges and transit over the next five years.

The seasonally-adjusted vehicle miles traveled (VMT) for December was 268.5 billion miles, a new monthly record for seasonally-adjusted data. December 2015 VMT increased by 4 percent compared to December 2014, and by 1.4 percent compared with the seasonally-adjusted total for November 2015. The new totals shows that “even when adjusting for holiday travel on both a year-to-year and month-to-month basis, road travel has achieved a new record level,” FHWA said in a release.

The agency said the latest data confirms trends identified in its “Beyond Traffic” report, which projects a rapidly growing population, increased freight volume, demographic shifts in rural and urban areas and a transportation system facing more frequent extreme weather events and increased gridlock nationwide unless changes are made in the near-term.