Study shows Americas traffic has disappeared—everywhere

A new nationwide study on how the coronavirus combined with the oil crisis has affected the nation’s travel shows a decline everywhere. Even in Oklahoma.

The Brookings Institute reported every metro area in the country experienced a traffic decline of at least 53% since the beginning of March. Of cities in Oklahoma, Stillwater had the largest decline at 60 percent while Tulsa was at 59 percent and Oklahoma City at 53 percent reduced vehicle miles traveled.

Other cities in the state and their reductions were: Norman 54%; Ponca City 31%; Bartlesville 50%; Lawton 43%; Altus 47%; ELk City 42%; Woodward 28%; Enid 36% and Shawnee 35%.

Still, the largest and smallest VMT drops tend to cluster in similar places. College towns such as Ann Arbor, Mich., large metro areas along the Northeast corridor, and most of coastal California’s metro areas all saw their traffic levels drop by at least 75% since March 1. Meanwhile, many medium-sized metro areas in the South, running from Texas through the Carolinas, saw the smallest declines.

The study also concluded that metropolitan populations tended to be more responsive to stay-at-home orders leading to larger drops in driving the longer orders were in place.

Larger shares of workers in high-information and management industries had a major negative impact on driving.

“We believe this is evidence of a surge in telework among these relatively high-paid and digitally literate households,” stated the study.

However, the study did not take into effect that the more rural areas did not need extensive “stay at home” or “social distancing” required because of the smaller populations and that driving was still a necessity. It wasn’t as easy to reduce driving in rural areas compared to larger metropolitan areas where residents have more extensive public transportation.

The researchers also claimed that voting patterns from 2016 had a significant impact, with Democratic-leaning counties far more likely to reduce their driving. This confirms national reporting that suggested partisanship was a major factor in a community’s approach to social distancing recommendations.

Click here to view the study.

Source: Brookings Institute