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States with the highest and lowest truck traffic on interstate highways

by Michael Sivak, Sivak Applied Research

This analysis examined truck traffic as the percentage of all traffic on interstate highways in the individual states and the District of Columbia. The calculations combined the percentages of vehicle distances traveled by single-unit trucks and combination trucks (but not light trucks) published by the Federal Highway Administration. The data are for 2019. The 10 states with the highest and lowest percentages of truck traffic on rural and urban interstates are presented in the table below. (There are no rural interstates in the District of Columbia and Delaware.)

Percentage of truck traffic
Rural interstates Urban interstates
Arkansas  36.1 Arkansas  30.5
Utah  34.7 Wyoming  29.7
Indiana  34.3 West Virginia  22.1
Nebraska  33.4 Tennessee  21.1
Wyoming  33.0 Indiana  19.9
Illinois  32.7 Maine  19.4
Missouri  31.6 Delaware  17.0
Texas  31.1 Kentucky  16.9
Oklahoma  28.9 Utah  16.6
Oregon  27.9 Missouri  16.4
Colorado  14.6 Vermont  8.1
Washington  14.1 Virginia  8.0
New Jersey  13.1 New Jersey  7.7
Maryland  12.4 Nebraska  7.2
Massachusetts  11.7 Massachusetts  6.3
Rhode Island  10.5 Alaska  5.8
Vermont  10.1 New Hampshire  5.2
Alaska  9.4 Rhode Island  5.0
New Hampshire  8.3 District of Columbia  2.3
Hawaii  4.6 Hawaii  1.9

The percentages of truck traffic varied greatly among the states. For both rural and urban interstates, truck traffic was proportionally highest in Arkansas (36.1% rural, 30.5% urban) and lowest in Hawaii (4.6% rural, 1.9% urban). For the entire United States, truck traffic represented 23.7% of all traffic on rural interstates and 11.4% on urban interstates.

The 2019 data presented in this analysis somewhat underestimate the percentage of current truck traffic. This is the case because the pandemic has affected truck and passenger-vehicle traffic differently. Specifically, truck traffic in 2021 is generally higher than in 2019, while passenger-vehicle traffic is still down. For example, during the week of March 1 through March 7, 2021 (the latest available data), truck traffic on all interstates increased by 12% compared with the corresponding week in 2019, while passenger-vehicle traffic decreased by 9%.

Michael Sivak is the managing director of Sivak Applied Research and the former director of Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at the University of Michigan.


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