Transportation & Infrastructure

How much does the government spend on infrastructure like roads and airports? How safe is the US transportation network? How do people get around?

Latest update on March 30, 2023

What are some key facts and trends?

There is no agreed-upon definition of infrastructure, but broadly it refers to facilities, structures, and utilities intended for long-term use. Explore data on infrastructure spending, how much distance America's roads cover, and how many transportation-related deaths yearly.

Government spending

In fiscal year 2020, governments spent a combined total of $386.0 billion on transportation and transportation infrastructure.

That’s $1,174 per person.

USAFacts categorizes government budget data to allocate spending appropriately and to arrive at the estimate presented here. The data does not yet show spending related to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed in November 2021. The bill allocated $550 billion in new spending to rebuild roads, bridges, rails, and airports while providing high-speed internet access and addressing climate concerns.

Government revenue and expenditures are based on data from the Office of Management and Budget, the Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Each is published annually, although due to collection times, state and local government data are not as current as federal data. Thus, when combining federal, state, and local revenues and expenditures, the most recent year for a combined number may be delayed.

Government spending by type of infrastructure

In fiscal year 2020, $209.9 billion in government spending on transportation went toward highways.

Budget data combined from the Census Bureau and Office of Management of Budget shows that most government transportation-related spending goes toward roads.

Government agencies and elected officials

Level of government
Key actors


Department of Transportation

Fund and manage federal public infrastructure projects (largely airports, highways, and railroads)


State and local transportation departments, regional transit authorities

Manage state and local public infrastructure projects (roads, public transit)

Level of government



Infrastructure measured in miles

In 2020, there were 4.2 million miles of roadway accessible to the public in the US.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics is the primary government agency that compiles data on the nation's transportation system, allowing people and goods to travel as needed. In addition, the agency provides several datasets that can give context to the state and scope of infrastructure.

This includes the distance covered by various ground transportation systems, including roads, rail, and pipelines. The US road network covers the most distance of these transportation types. The data accounts for all public road and street mileage in every state and Washington, DC.

Road conditions

In 2020, 81% of US public roads were considered in acceptable condition.

Roadway conditions are measured using a concept known as the International Roughness Index. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics compiles measurements.

Household spending on transportation

In 2021, the average American household spent $11,613 on transportation.

After housing, transportation is the second-largest category of spending for American households.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics' annual Consumer Expenditure Survey provides consumer information on American households across various categories. The agency breaks down transportation spending into select categories, including multiple vehicle-related ones. In 2020, while spending in transportation categories such as fuel and public transportation decreased, spending on vehicle purchases increased.

Average annual expenditure on transportation per household, inflation-adjusted

How people commute

In 2021, 67.8% of workers went to their place of work by driving alone.

The Census Bureau's American Community Survey tracks commuting characteristics for workers over 16 years old.

How much people drive

In 2021, the average American with a license drove 13,549 miles.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics measures the amount of driving in the US using the concept of vehicle miles traveled, the sum of all distances driven in a period. The agency also tracks the number of licensed drivers in the US. The two data points can be combined to calculate the amount driven by the average driver.

Transit use

In 2021, the average person took 13.5 transit rides.

The Department of Transportation has several metrics measuring public transportation use, including the number of rides people take on transit of any type, including buses and subway trains.

Motor vehicle fatality rate

In 2020, there were 1.3 traffic deaths per every 100 million miles driven in the US.

Historically, death rates related to traffic crashes have been falling before an uptick during the pandemic.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tracks traffic crashes of all severity. Its Fatality Analysis Reporting System aggregates data from various state and local government sources. That data accounts for traffic crashes involving motor vehicles traveling on a publicly open road or traffic way that results in at least one person's death inside or outside the vehicle.

The agency provides data on the number of crashes and deaths and death rates that allow for interpreting trends over time. The rate shown in this section shows the number of traffic deaths for every 1 million miles driven by all vehicles in a given area, more formally known as vehicle-miles traveled. Other ways to measure the fatality rate of motor vehicle crashes include accounting for population, the number of registered vehicles, or the number of licensed drivers.

Transportation-related deaths

In 2020, 38,824 people died in traffic-related incidents.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics catalogs deaths across different means of transportation. However, the agency cautions that there are differences in what counts as a transportation-related death based on a mode of transportation.