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Drivers travelled about 59.5 billion miles in Wisconsin last year, an increase of nearly 400 million miles compared to 2012. Traffic forecasters with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) attribute the increase in vehicle miles travelled (VMT) to growth in commercial vehicle traffic and to the state’s population.
Over the last 45 years, Wisconsin’s population increased about 30 percent (from about 4.4 million in 1970 to 5.7 million today). Over the same period, Wisconsin VMT has more than doubled (130 percent increase) from 25.9 billion miles travelled in 1970 to 59.5 billion miles today. The nearly 60 billion miles motorists travelled on Wisconsin roadways last year is equal to about 317 round-trips between the Earth and sun. Last year, the average Wisconsin resident traveled 10,359 miles.
VMT is a commonly-used measure of highway use and demand that assists in long-range transportation planning. It provides a broad or aggregate picture of overall travel and is calculated by combining data on statewide fuel consumption, average vehicle gas mileage and traffic count information. WisDOT incorporates data from more than 25,000 traffic count locations across the state.
Traffic forecasters can also calculate current and future Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) – information that is used to help plan and design a specific highway, intersection or bridge improvement. AADT is influenced by several local factors including land use and population.
More information on Wisconsin’s 2013 VMT data, including a county by county breakdown can be found on the WisDOT website (www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/counts/vmt.htm).