Maryland driving rebounds in February
AAA Mid-Atlantic is reporting that Maryland drivers drove more miles in February 2009 than they did the same month in 2008 -- a possible halt in a longterm downward trend.
The 1.2 percent increase in vehicle miles traveled in Maryland, reported by the Federal Highway Administration based on preliminary data, contrasts with a continued decline nationwide. AAA said the federal agency reported that the state recorded 47 million more vehicle miles traveled this February than February 2008 -- 3,877 billion miles compared to 3,830 billion miles a year ago.
The highway administration said the the month-to-month national decrease was decrease was 0.9 percent. The state's narrow increase follows a 4.9 percent decline in miles driven in January -- continuing a trend that has cut deeply into state gas tax collections.
“It’s hard to call February’s numbers a recovery sign … yet,” AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Ragina C. Averella said. “But with summer just ahead and motorists’ apparent willingness to travel again, this could be golden for the tourism industry.”
AAA said lower gas prices in Maryland may have made more motorists more willing to use their cars. Avarella said the average cost of a gallon of gas in February was less than $2 compared with about $3 the previous February.