U.S. road travel rose 14.5% in June as motorists near pre-pandemic driving

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Traffic is seen at the Lincoln Tunnel ahead of the July 4th holiday, in New York City, New York, U.S., July 2, 2021. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

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WASHINGTON, Aug 11 (Reuters) - U.S. motorists drove 14.5% more miles in June as rural driving topped pre COVID-19 levels and more Americans return to offices and leisure trips.

The Federal Highway Administration said Wednesday motorists drove 282.5 billion miles in June, up 35.7 billion miles over June 2020 as overall travel was nearly back to pre-pandemic levels. In June 2019, U.S. motorists logged 284.5 billion miles.

For the first time since the pandemic began, rural driving surpassed pre-pandemic levels in June, while urban driving remains slightly below 2019 levels.

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Rural driving averaged 2.97 billion miles per day in June, up from 2.93 billion per day in June 2019, while urban driving averaged 6.45 billion miles per day, just below the 6.55 billion miles per day in the same month in 2019.

For all of 2020, U.S. road travel fell 13.2% to 2.83 trillion miles, the lowest yearly total since 2001. The current 12-month moving average is 3 trillion miles.

The biggest jump in June was in the Northeast, where miles traveled was up 19.9%. It was up 17.5% in the West.

U.S. gasoline consumption is expected to average 8.8 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2021, up from 8 million bpd in 2020, the Energy Information Administration said.

Still, the EIA added U.S. gasoline consumption will remain below 2019 levels through 2022 due to the proliferation of people working from home.

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Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis

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