Report: Vehicle Miles Traveled Almost Fully Returned to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Reports last week that the U.S. economy is about 30 percent smaller than before the pandemic aren't reflected in driving trends.

August 3, 2020, 9:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Ron Adar / Shutterstock

Cailin Crowe shares data from the Trip Reduction Index, created by StreetLight Data and Boston Consulting Group, to track vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roads during the pandemic. 

"The index found the national average in VMT dropped 72% from the beginning of March through April 7, but rural counties have now fully recovered to pre-COVID VMT levels while urban counties have reached 90% recovery," according to Crowe. 

"The analysis also found that the top three contributing factors to VMT reduction profiles are household income, population density and the number of professional service jobs, which all tend to be more prevalent in urban areas than rural areas."

As the coronavirus has spread, and continued to spread, around the nation, the low point in VMT was achieved on Easter Sunday (April 12). The article notes that with these dramatic changes in the driving patterns of Americans, similar new trends have emerged in bikes, transit, and other mobility services. Recent data reported by the Kinder Institute of Urban Research shows that as VMT has risen again as the pandemic has lingered into its fourth month, infection rates have also risen. While the data stops short of proving any causation, recent research has also served to allay some of the early fears of public transit as a vector for infection.

Specific VMT trends for geographic regions are also pointed out in the source article.

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