Tuesday, April 7, 2020

How Corona affects traffic – car & mobile

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Less traffic, less traffic jam – the Corona crisis shows how mobility behavior is changing as a result of the Corona restrictions. The effects on cities and motorways can be traced using traffic data.

“Where can you drive faster than 130 anyway? It’s always a traffic jam anyway.” In times of the Corona crisis, this argument, which is otherwise always reflexively discussed in the discussion about a possible speed limit on German motorways, seems very far away. Current traffic data show how much our mobility behavior is driven by professional and leisure traffic. This applies both to the otherwise congested cities and to the motorways. There you could easily drive 200 km / h continuously and faster in many places – because there is hardly anyone on the road anymore.

The effects were evident even before the first exit restrictions came into effect. As current ADAC traffic data shows, there were just under 4,000 traffic jams with a total length of around 4,900 kilometers last week (KW 12) – before the official exit restrictions. The total duration of the registered traffic jams was approximately 1370 hours. A week earlier (week 11), the ADAC counted a good 9400 traffic jams with a total length of 14,500 kilometers. The time that drivers lost in traffic jams was 4350 hours.

During the past week alone, traffic and congestion decreased significantly: while Monday and Tuesday still counted 840 and 995 traffic jams, on Friday – usually one of the most congested days of the week – there were only 396.

According to ADAC, however, motorway construction sites have increased. In the current week (KW 13) 609 construction sites have been set up on the German trunk roads. In the previous week there were 582 construction sites, a week earlier only 573. To what extent work can currently be continued on the construction sites is unclear.

Even within the cities, there is currently almost no traffic jam at rush hour. If you listen to the traffic reports on the radio in the morning and early evening, you will not hear anything of the otherwise obligatory sluggish traffic on the Mittlerer Ring in Munich. And that, although everyone who still has to be outside and has his own car prefers this to public transport.

Data from Tomtom, which are collected anonymously from the users of their navigation systems, show how strongly the corona crisis is affecting road traffic in German cities.

An example: Munich, March 23. Actually a normal Monday. However, an extensive exit restriction has applied throughout Bavaria since March 21, and schools and universities have also closed. Instead of the regular rush hour between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., there is now almost no change in the relative traffic load. From morning to night the traffic flows without major changes.

This phenomenon can also be observed in other major German cities. The number of cars on the streets in Germany has been falling massively since March 13, compared to the previous year’s average. In the first few days, this was probably due to the lack of traffic to the schools, many parents stay at home in the home office – to look after their children.

Meanwhile, the average traffic load in German cities has decreased by almost 40 percent. On normal working days, the occupancy rate is usually around 20 percent, currently it is around 13 percent. So it’s partly ghostly empty on the streets.

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