Traffic data across the country suggests that the morning rush hour has changed since the pandemic — bringing with it some potentially hazardous conditions — and it may never return to pre-COVID-19 patterns, according to a recent report from USA Today.
Specifically, the morning rush hour has gotten later and flatter. Traffic is dropping in the earlier hours — from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. — and also in the later morning 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. timeframe, but not as dramatically.
The report notes that in May, in the 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. timeframe traffic volume was down 32% from February 2020 in San Francisco; 24% in Manhattan; 24% in Dallas; 22% in Tampa; and 8% along the heavily traveled I-95 corridor between Baltimore and Philadelphia.
In the 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. stretch, traffic volumes in May dipped 26% from February 2020 in San Francisco; 17% in Manhattan; 13% in Tampa; and 12% in Dallas. The only exception was along I-95, where traffic volume was up 12%.
While decreased traffic can mean less time on the road for commuters, it can also lead to more dangerous hours on the road, as an uptick in speeding on open roads makes fatal crashes more likely, notes the USA Today report.
In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled on U.S. roads was 1.37 in 2000 —that’s a 23% increase from the rate of 1.11 in 2019.
Many experts believe there has also been less enforcement of traffic laws since COVID-19. The speeding problem may be exacerbated by the fact people can get way with it.
Speeding remains one of the biggest hazards on our nation’s roadways. For more than two decades, speeding has been involved in about one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities, according to NHTSA. Studies also show speeding increases the severity of a collision as well as the severity of injuries.