Working from home is changing traffic patterns, study finds

Morning In America

(NewsNation Now) — More people working from home for the past couple years because of the COVID-19 pandemic has meant changing traffic patterns.

A new TomTom traffic study traffic reports that though congestion levels went up slightly in 2021 compared to the year before, they remained lower than in previous years.

Despite congestion levels in North America dropping by 14%, residents of large cities like New York and Los Angeles are still spending up to 3 whole days in traffic a year. Even in less-populated cities like Tampa, the average commuter will spend two days out of the year sitting in traffic. In Dallas, that number is 39 hours annually.

Traffic patterns themselves, however, have shifted. Some cities are seeing a peak in morning commuter traffic at 11 a.m., while rush hour traffic in the evening is getting earlier, starting at 3 p.m. or 4 p.m.

Across the United States, morning traffic decreased by 9% and was down by 6% in the evening. If remote work remains the norm, experts say this decreasing traffic could be one of the lasting trends to come out of the pandemic. Over a third of cities worldwide have seen a shift in peak traffic hours, TomTom found.

But however you feel about congestion in the United States, it can be worse internationally: Cities like Istanbul and Moscow had an over 60% average congestion level in 2021, and both actually went up from what they were before the pandemic in 2019, according to TomTom.

Worldwide, traffic congestion levels remain 10% lower than they were before COVID.

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