How Has Commute Traffic Changed Since the Start of the Pandemic?

Now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in Sonoma County, life is starting to slowly return to normal. However, if you commute to work during typical business hours, you may have noticed rush hour doesn’t seem to feel as “rushed” as it used to.

Heavy traffic on one of the freeways crossing Silicon Valley, San Francisco bay area, California

You’re not alone. Traffic data from across the country suggests that the daily commute has changed drastically since the start of the pandemic, particularly in the morning. And, traffic experts aren’t sure if it will actually return to its pre-pandemic patterns.

In general, rush hour trends have shown that traffic has become more spread out, with more drivers postponing their trips to the office until later in the morning. As more Americans have transitioned to remote work or a hybrid schedule, there’s more variance with when people are commuting. Although it’s expected that more people will return to the workplace following Labor Day, traffic experts believe that traffic will continue to stay lighter than it was prior to 2020.

Less Road Time Has a Downside

Less congestion on the road seems like it would be a good thing, right? Commutes are quicker. There’s less stop-and-go traffic (and the accompanying stress and potential for road rage). What’s not to like?

Unfortunately, less road time comes with a dangerous downside. Fewer people commuting means the road is nice and open, which encourages speeding and increases the potential for deadly accidents. In fact, it’s more dangerous out there than it was before the pandemic.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the fatality rate per 100 million miles traveled on U.S. roads was 1.37, a 23% increase from 2019. In addition, the National Safety Council also estimates that just under 4. 8 million people were seriously injured in collision in 2020.

With fewer people on the road, people can drive faster. With faster speeds, there are typically more reckless maneuvers, lower reaction time for braking, more occurrences of drivers losing control, and other factors that lead to collisions and injury. To add to the issue, police aren’t stepping in the way they had prior to the pandemic, so many drivers have been speeding because they know they can get away with it.

Staying Safe on the Road

Whether you commute to the office daily or work remotely, it’s important to keep in mind that many people are still adjusting to life after a year of lockdown—and more traffic on the roads. Some drivers have become accustomed to driving well over the speed limit over the past year. Stay safe by keeping your eyes on the road, limiting distractions, and give people who want to go faster than the speed limit allows a wide berth.

If you do get into an accident, we’re here to help! From high-quality OEM repairs to complete insurance coordination on your behalf, we make the repair process as smooth and stress-free as possible. Give us a call at (707) 591-9909 or contact us online. Stay safe out there!