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Record traffic is boosting U.S. fuel demand

Record traffic is boosting U.S. fuel demand thumbnail

Traffic on U.S. highways has hit a new record as the economy recovers and the lower cost of gasoline and diesel encourages more travel.

Cars and trucks drove a record 3.050 trillion miles on U.S. highways in the 12 months ending in January, passing the previous peak of 3.039 trillion set in the 12 months to November 2007, according to the Federal Highway Administration (

In January, traffic was 4.9 percent higher than in the corresponding month in 2014, the agency said on Tuesday.

Information on traffic volumes is collected from 4,000 roadside monitoring stations across the country and published with a two-month delay.

Traffic fell more than 3 percent between November 2007 and November 2011, as the increased cost of fuel coupled with the recession and increased unemployment to produce the most sustained drop in motoring since World War Two.

Traffic volumes have been gradually recovering since the end of 2011 as the economy has grown and joblessness has fallen.

Since March 2014, however, there has been a marked acceleration. Traffic volumes have grown more in the last 12 months than in the previous two and a half years.

The pick-up in traffic predates the crash in oil prices by some months, which suggests it reflects a combination of economic recovery and fuel prices. Oil prices did not start sliding until late June 2014.

But there is no doubt that cheaper fuel and a recovering economy are mutually reinforcing and stimulating a big increase in traffic.

Roadside traffic counts are consistent with data from tax authorities in Texas, California and other states, which show a much faster increase in fuel sales starting in the middle of 2014.

Strong fuel demand is expected to underpin global crude prices at around $55-60 per barrel over the next few months, a senior Gulf OPEC delegate told Reuters on Tuesday.

“Global demand is definitely growing much stronger than expected. In December, January and especially February ‎it was beyond what forecasts anticipated,” the delegate said. Traffic data tends to confirm that demand is indeed rising much faster than before.

U.S. cars and trucks consume about 11 million barrels of gasoline and diesel every day, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, equivalent to around one in every eight barrels of oil used worldwide (

U.S. road traffic is the biggest single influence on oil demand worldwide — and all the data now points to a sustained increase in consumption.

34 Comments on "Record traffic is boosting U.S. fuel demand"

  1. MSN Fanboy on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 7:11 pm 

    What ever happened to peak demand… ROLF

  2. Rodster on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 7:38 pm 

    “Traffic on U.S. highways has hit a new record as the economy recovers”

    Wake me up, when did the eCONomy recover? The Gubmint and the MSM Presstitutes have been lying and covering for each other.

  3. Davy on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 7:54 pm 

    Just because miles driven are up does not mean an economy is improving. Driving is not a good indicator of economic activity alone. People naturally will drive more when price is down. I imagine the corresponding increase in mileage driven is similar to the amount of decline in cost. IOW they are using the savings on driving.

    If the price of gas had not dropped and mileage driven was up OK we can play that economy improving card. This is just more lousy MSM reporting that shows the profession of journalism is up there with reality TV judges or congressmen in stature.

  4. Brent on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 8:39 pm 

    When Forbes starts ringing alarm bells you know your in trouble.

  5. Plantagenet on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 8:48 pm 

    Yup—just as I predicted. The oil glut brought down oil prices. Lower oil prices allows people to drive more.

    Next we’ll see more driving start to reduce the oil glut, and then prices should head back up.

    It may take a while to get back up to $100 bbl, but with enough driving and maybe a little help from obama’s complete incompetence in the middle east leading to more wars things may turn around sooner rather than later.

  6. Brent on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 10:42 pm 

    Wrong planet agent read my article that I posted above. I have just one word for you debt.

  7. claus schelde on Thu, 26th Mar 2015 10:44 pm 

    Do you fellas know, that the price of a kwh for a short while dropped to negative in denmark.
    The windmills produced more electricity than the grid could consume. and the result was that you had to pay to get rid of your energi production.
    It was just for a short while. But anyway. You guys live in the wrong country

  8. Bandits on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 12:11 am 

    Denmark, exports and has exported a lot of oil. (Claims to be green because of windmills but exports its pollution) It won the lottery in the North Sea. If it wasn’t for that, they would probably be worse off than Greece. They have a population of just over 5.5 million. Shipping, fishing fleets and transport (major industries) all require plenty of oil.

    Although they use a lot of fossil fuels including gas and coal, due to the electricity generated with windmills the reliance on FF’s is dropping and it will need to, as revenue from oil exports is dropping fast, like off a cliff. They still have a large public debt (46% GDP) but by no means the worst in the EU.

  9. Apneaman on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 3:14 am 

    Old King Coal Stricken; Prognosis Grave

  10. marmico on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 3:36 am 

    Davy-boy sees doom and gloom in everything. A Freddy Fluff chart indexing vehicle miles travelled (VMT), payroll employment and the CPI (price) of gasoline.

    Payrolls and VMT are more correlated than prices and VMT.

  11. Davy on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 6:05 am 

    Marmi, the employment situation is bad and everyone here knows it. Work for participation is way down The amount of good paying jobs are way down with burger flippers up. The middle class is getting squeezed as the 1%er prosper which skews the results. Everyone knows here the true cost of living is up. Recently fuel is down but anything else that matters is up. Vehicle miles are only back to pre-crisis levels. Your graphs are part of the snow job going on at the top. They do not accurately present the real economy that most of the population lives in.

    Marm answer one short question if the economy is healthy why are interest rates at historic lows and the Fed unable to raise them? You can’t answer that question because there are no phony manipulated and corrupt graphs for you to sport.

  12. Davy on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 6:12 am 

    Claus, Denmark is a great little country but without the rest of Europe as your partner making much of the positives possible Denmark would not be sustainable as presented by you. Your population is no bigger than a biggish city. It is irrelevant as a comparison for large nations.

  13. marmico on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 7:15 am 

    why are interest rates at historic lows

    What interest rates would you be referring to? You mean that you can get a fixed rate 30 year term mortgage for the lowest rate since WW11. Once your sons are baling hay on The Little House on the Prairie doomstead you should hock it and double up the acreage if you think interest rates are going to rise. You are a dumbo extraordinaire.

  14. shortonoil on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 7:34 am 

    But there is no doubt that cheaper fuel and a recovering economy are mutually reinforcing and stimulating a big increase in traffic.

    The article fails to mention that at $50/barrel at least a third of that production happened at a loss. We wonder how much “happy motoring” is going to be happening after many producers have shut-in their wells?

  15. Davy on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 8:21 am 

    Marmi deflects the elephant in the room question why is the primary Fed rate at historic lows for multiple years and why can’t the Fed show some nuggets and raise that rate. Why have 24 countries cut rates recently? Marmi, answer the friggen question like a man. You can’t handle the truth you coward. The world is not a bowl of cherries like you want to believe.

  16. marmico on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 8:37 am 

    Are ya doubling down on the acreage with record low interest rates since you have progeny to bale hay on The Little House on The Prairie doomsteads, Davy-boy?

    The elephant in the room is that you are the Disney Dumbo Elephant, Davy-boy. Lotsa hay, lotsa shit.

  17. Davy on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 8:58 am 

    Marm, quit being a pussy and answer the friggen question. It is that simple if you can’t answer the question then you are a fake. Go find another site for fakes so you fakes can try to maintain your fake fantasy. I am going to call you out on your fake fantasy here on this site. You should know by now your name calling shows I pissed you off which I enjoy doing.

  18. marmico on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 9:18 am 

    What’s your question without the word salad, Dumbo the Elephant?

    Is it that Nony slaps your hero Rockman around better than I do? I would agree with that. I despise the Rockman types that appeal to the authority of cutting one’s self on drill shavings and mud baths.

    But no one slaps around your hero the quart shy of oil like I do.

  19. GregT on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 9:33 am 

    What’s a matter Marmico? Bad week at the casino?

  20. Davy on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 9:36 am 

    Greg, I am trying to tell Marmi he is pissing in the wind because he is too dumb to figure out why his pants are all soaked in urine. Greg, maybe he will listen to you.

  21. GregT on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 9:42 am 

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

  22. marmico on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 9:48 am 

    Oh, GregT, could you please show me some photos of your Little House on the Upper Fraser Ginseng Farm. Nothing like being downstream from Hell’s Gate. 🙂

  23. GregT on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 9:52 am 

    You missed the mark by a few hundred miles Marmico.

    Don’t worry, the casino will bounce back, this time. One of these days however, you’re going to lose your shirt. The trick is to know when to get out. Of course the most greedy seldom do.

  24. marmico on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 10:06 am 

    Pretty damn close, since Dumbo the Elephant wouldn’t know the difference between the Columbia and the Fraser?

    So you moved to the desert to grow peyote instead of hay. You are way ahead of Dumbo the Elephant when it comes to cash crops. Good luck. 🙂

  25. BC on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 10:06 am 

    Gents, the sum of real profits after tax, disposable income, and gov’t receipts decelerated to the historical “stall speed” in Q3-Q4 ’14, which occurred prior to, or coincident with, the onset of every recession since 1960.

    This metric is effectively a proxy (R^2 = 0.876) for real final sales less net exports and the fiscal deficit.

    The average 4- and 6-qtr. real final sales rates after the economy decelerated to “stall speed” were -0.36% and -0.1%, i.e., recession.

    The U rate rose 50-100%+ during the subsequent 6 qtrs. (18 mths.).

    Were a recession to occur, the implied real GDP contraction would be no less than 2-2.5% with the U rate rising to 7.5-8% by summer-fall 2016 (unless labor force participation falls to 60%, which is possible).

    We should now see gov’t spending and the deficit increase hereafter as a share of GDP as GDP decelerates, tax receipts peak and decline, and employment peaks and falls, lagging the decelerating economy.

    The US economy at “stall speed” is reflected by the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow real annualized GDP “nowcast” at ~0% SAAR (weather effects and port and refinery strikes notwithstanding).


  26. BC on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 10:18 am 

    BTW, if the recessionary scenario plays out, the Fed will have to resume printing ~$45-$50 billion/month later this year and into 2016-17 to fund the increasing deficit to prevent nominal GDP from contracting.


  27. Davy on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 10:30 am 

    Good work BC!

  28. peakyeast on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 10:37 am 

    Actually Denmark lost the lottery of the North Sea since our minister of energy in the 60s gave major parts away to Norway. A lot of Norways oil was “ours” and the minster has been infamous for that ever since – not that he was personally responsible – but he was the minister in charge at the time of the negotiations.

  29. marmico on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 10:39 am 

    The US economy at “stall speed” is reflected by the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow real annualized GDP “nowcast” at ~0% SAAR (weather effects and port and refinery strikes notwithstanding).

    So how’s the shale oil business doing now consuming 2/3rds of its output?

    Drilling down 50% but consumption up 3%.

    Can I see your Freddy Fluff per capita chart? Obama has created more private sector jobs in 6 years than Bush41 and Bush43 created in 12 years. That would your politics, wouldn’t it?

    Let’s get it on.

  30. peakyeast on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 11:05 am 

    @claus schelde: There is a powerful lobby against renewable power in Denmark – and they post this overproduction as a problem with renewable energy.

    It is a hoax. We have to change away from fossil fuels no matter what – so we need to solve these problems. Besides – it should be fairly easy to use the excess power production to something useful if we actually wanted to and the problem was significant.

    The funny thing about the overproduction is that the same crazed people uses the argument against solar power – that it costs a lot because the power is more expensive in the winter – at the same time they moan about the low price on electricity in the same months. Which is it?

    They dont know because they cant see a broader view of anything but their own behind.

  31. BC on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 11:21 am 

    marmico, why the injection of politics?

    The job creation you mention is from a trough in employment that went back to the level of 1999. Private payrolls are just 2.5% above the 2007-08 peak (0.36%/year growth) vs. growth of 1.3-1.6%/year from 1990 to 2000-07, and ~0.7% from 2000 to 2007.

    Adjusting for population growth, non-farm payrolls are at the levels of 1989-90.

    Moreover, real final sales per capita have barely grown since 2007, and the average rate has been halved or more since 2000.

    Since 2008, the US gov’t has averaged annualized deficits of ~$1 trillion/year just to get back to even in 2007-08.

    Peak Oil, LTG, “secular stagnation”, and Japan-like “slow-motion depressions” don’t discriminate between political ideologies.

  32. BC on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 11:29 am 

    marmico, I neglected to invite you to look at corporate profits after tax that began contracting in ’14, which is typical ahead of a deceleration and contraction of orders, production, employment, gov’t receipts, and eventually final sales.

    US Treasury withholding receipts imply that employment peaked last summer-fall and that estimates for employment might be overstated since then, which is typical at business cycle peaks and “stall speed” prior to recessions.

  33. Apneaman on Fri, 27th Mar 2015 11:46 am 

    Bush41 and Bush43. Never miss a chance to use a number when a word or abbreviation would communicate it better and to more people. Are you aware you do this? All thee time. You are lost in the data boy. Throw away that calculator and join the human race.

  34. Richard Ralph Roehl on Sat, 28th Mar 2015 4:22 am 

    The U.S. economy is recovering?

    $omebody is smoking crack.

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