American drivers used a record amount of gas in the first half of this year, thanks to low gas prices and an unprecedented number of drivers.
U.S. vehicles consumed 71.8 billion gallons of gasoline in the first six months of 2016, up 3 percent from the same period last year and the highest amount on record, according to a new report from the Federal Highway Administration. The gain also represents the sixth straight increase in national gas consumption in the first half of any year.
Drivers in the South Gulf area — which encompasses eight states that stretch from Texas to West Virginia — recorded the largest year-over-year increase of any region at 4.1 percent. Of all states, Oklahoma posted the biggest annual percentage gain in consumption at 8.2 percent, while North Dakota recorded the steepest decline in consumption at 5.9 percent.
California drivers gobbled up the most gas, consuming 7.65 billion gallons, followed by Texas at 7.1 billion and Florida at 4.57 billion.
In August, the FHWA reported that the American drivers traveled 1.58 trillion miles in the first half of the year, setting a new record and beating last year’s high of 1.54 trillion miles. There are also a record number of drivers on U.S. roads — an estimated 217.9 million, according to the administration.
While gas prices rose steadily in the first six months of the year, they remained relatively low. For instance, gas prices were at 11-year lows this Memorial Day, the unofficial start of the summer driving season. Prices hit a 2016 peak (so far) in June at $2.39 a gallon. This week, the national average is $2.22, a penny more than last year.