Commercial fleet activity spiked in Florida in the week before Hurricane Irma was expected to reach the Florida Keys as a Category 5 storm on Sept. 10.
The activity of the more than 33,000 commercial vehicles equipped with a Geotab telematics system increased 360% in the state from Aug. 23 to Sept. 6. The increase in activity is a result of businesses moving their people and vehicles to safer havens and increased driving as fleets respond to greater public demand for basic goods and services, according to Geotab.
Geotab found increased activity in Orlando, Tampa, and Miami, which typically see high volumes of commercial activity, as well as Jacksonville and Pensacola in the north, which have much less traffic.
"Our data shows a significant influx in sheer vehicle activity and not necessarily an increase of vehicles," said Neil Cawse, Geotab's CEO. "Comparing vehicle data from last month to that of today, there is an explosion of activity in Florida’s largest cities and a massive increase in traffic up the I-95 and I-75 highways."
The data also showed that fleet drivers are increasingly heading to fuel stations amid reported shortages in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale region. About 40% of the stations in that area have run out of gasoline.
On an average weekday in Florida, 36% of Geotab vehicles fill up their tanks at least once. Over the past few days, Geotab analysts have seen this number rise to over 45% of active vehicles, meaning more than 7,500 vehicles are fueling up at the pumps.
Geotab also analyzed Hurricane Irma's impact on Puerto Rico, which was struck on Sept. 7 by the storm. That day, only 35% of the Geotab vehicles on the island were being used. On an average weekday in the month before the storm, an average of 91% of Geotab vehicles were being used.
"With no direct evacuation route available on the island, we can see the devastating effects Irma had on commercial activity in the days leading up to its arrival," Cawse said. "One positive piece of news is that we have seen over 95 percent of our vehicles still communicating at this time."
Geotab created a timelapse map of the commercial activity in Florida that can be viewed here.