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The economy must be getting better -- we're driving again

Americans appear to be falling in love with the open road again.

The Department of Transportation reports that Americans drove nearly 3 trillion miles in 2010. That's the most since 2007 and a 0.7 percent increase over 2009.

Prior to last year, Americans appeared to be cutting back on driving. A steep increase in gas prices in 2008 may have contributed to some of that, followed by a major economic downturn that left millions of Americans without work.

But now, traffic appears to be inching back up. The Department of Transportation noted that December marked the 10th consecutive month of increased driving.

Still, Americans could hunker back down again. Oil prices have risen sharply recently amid the turmoil in the Mideast, and that's expected to push prices at the pump up as well.