AAA: COVID-19 caused ‘drastic drop’ in road travel


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A new report from AAA says the COVID-19 pandemic caused a drastic drop in road travel in 2020. The report was compiled by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s New American Driving Survey.

It shows passenger car traffic fell by 48% in April 2020, just as pandemic restrictions went into effect; broken down into average daily trips, drivers went from 3.7 trips per day to 2.2 early in the pandemic.

Traffic picked up later in the year, but remained approximately 20-25% below 2019 levels for the second half of 2020, according to AAA.

Other findings in the report:

  • Early in the pandemic, travel reductions were most substantial among teens and young adults (16-24) and people over 65.
  • Daily trips dropped more drastically in urban areas (42%) than rural areas (25%).
  • Travel by bus, taxi, or rideshare fell from 5.5% pre-pandemic to 1.7% in April 2010.
  • Commuter travel dropped by 40% at the start of the pandemic then returned to approximately 26% below pre-pandemic levels.
  • The number of people who remained in the same place all day was at 26% in April 2020, compared to 9-14% before the pandemic.

Although fewer people were on the roadways during the pandemic, AAA says the number of road fatalities rose to their highest levels in more than a decade.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 38,680 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020; that’s an increase of about 7.2% over 2019 — the largest projected number of fatalities since 2007.

In Ohio, traffic fatalities rose 6.4% last year, from 1,155 deaths in 2019 to 1,229 deaths in 2020, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation.

AAA says the sharp rise in traffic fatalities is most likely the result of speeding, driving under the influence, and a failure to wear seatbelts.

More information on the the report is available on the AAA website.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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