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Americans Drove More in 2015

Joanna Alvarez plays with a toy parachute man at the Arco gas station parking lot where gasoline is posted at $1.99 a gallon in Oak Hills, Calif, on Wednesday, Feb., 24, 2016. (David Pardo, Victor Valley Daily Press via AP)
Americans Drove More in 2015
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Americans drove more miles in 2015 than any year since the U.S. government started keeping records 45 years ago.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently reported that Americans drove a record 3.148 trillion miles last year.

In case you are wondering, that is enough to take 337 round trips from Earth to Pluto.

There are number of reasons Americans are driving more, according to experts.

The first is the price of gas, which has dropped to 2004 levels in the past year. The American Automobile Association said the average price of unleaded regular gasoline is $1.71 a gallon, or 45.17 cents per liter. That is the lowest price since 2004.

P.J. Sriraj, interim executive director of the Urban Transportation Center at the University of Chicago, said the lower cost to fill up a car or truck is just one reason Americans are driving more.

Another reason is that more Americans are back to work after the 2008 recession, and driving to their jobs, he said.

More Americans are also traveling longer distances to get to jobs, Sriraj said.

There are increased numbers of Americans who must travel more than 45 miles per day for their jobs, he said.

And for many, there are no, or not enough, public transit options. Sriraj said.

There is a downside to increased driving. Roads are more crowded, Sriraj said. And while modern automobiles and trucks are more fuel efficient and less polluting, the improvements are not enough to offset more cars on the road, Sriraj said.

“Because we’re driving more, it’s a wash in terms of pollution,” Sriraj told VOA Learning English.

I'm Bruce Alpert.

Bruce Alpert reported on this story for VOA Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

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Words in This Story

Pluto - n. the object in our solar system that in the past was thought to be the planet farthest from the sun but that is no longer considered to be a planet

optionn. the ability to choose something or to choose between two or more things

efficient - adj. - capable of producing desired results without wasting materials, time, or energy

a wash - adj. no difference