Data shows exactly how much highway speeds in 25 major metropolitan areas have shot up since coronavirus lockdowns began

Portland highwayPortland highway

A Portland, Oregon, highway.

Steve Dykes/Getty Images


  • Travel speeds across the US have skyrocketed as traffic has virtually disappeared due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from analytics firm Inrix.
  • Between late February and early April, commute speeds increased significantly across 25 metropolitan areas studied by Inrix. 
  • San Francisco and Los Angeles both saw a roughly 60% jump in highway and expressway speeds during evening rush hour. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Travel speeds on major US roadways have risen sharply as the coronavirus pandemic and related lockdowns have forced would-be commuters to stay home. Roads are so empty, in fact, that areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles have seen a roughly 60% jump in highway speeds during evening rush hour. 

That’s according to Inrix, a Kirkland, Washington-based analytics firm that recently studied just how fast drivers are going now that the roads are theirs and theirs alone. Inrix analyzed travel speeds on highways and expressways in 25 metropolitan areas, comparing morning and evening rush-hour speeds during the week of April 6 to rush-hour speeds during a control week in late February, before things got really bad in the US.

Across the board, travel speeds during typical morning and evening commute times were measurably higher in April than in February. The change in average speed ranged from 6% up to 60%, depending on the location and time of day.

Bob Pishue, a transportation analyst at Inrix, told Business Insider the areas that typically have the most congestion generally saw the most drastic bumps in average speed.

Seattle, the initial epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the US, was among the first cities to see this rapid shift in travel behavior, Pishue said. Traffic there virtually evaporated overnight after major employers in the area — including Amazon and Microsoft — told employees to begin working from home in early March. 

Now, as roughly 95% of Americans are under some form of stay-at-home order, congestion on major roadways has all but disappeared — likewise, travel speeds during peak commute times have skyrocketed. 

These are the 25 US metropolitan areas Inrix studied, ranked according to the average speed increase observed during evening rush hour on the week of April 6 through 10.

St. Louis — 13% faster

st louis highway

Light traffic in St. Louis.

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson


Morning rush hour: 66 mph, 13% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 67 mph, 13% faster than usual

Minneapolis-St. Paul — 14% faster

Minneapolis

Minneapolis.

Scruggelgreen/Shutterstock


Morning rush hour: 61 mph, 6% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 61 mph, 14% faster than usual

Phoenix — 15% faster

phoenix arizona quarantine air pollution

Downtown Phoenix.

Ross D. Franklin/AP


Morning rush hour: 65 mph, 9% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 65 mph, 15% faster than usual

Sacramento, California — 19% faster

Sacramento, California

Sacramento, California.


Shutterstock



Morning rush hour: 57 mph, 8% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 58 mph, 19% faster than usual

Chicago — 20% faster

chicago traffic

Chicago.

AP/Kiichiro Sato


Morning rush hour: 58 mph, 11% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 59 mph, 20% faster than usual

Philadelphia — 21% faster

Philadelphia street

An empty Philadelphia street.

Cory Clark/NurPhoto via Getty Images


Morning rush hour: 56 mph, 14% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 56 mph, 21% faster than usual

Charlotte, North Carolina — 24% faster

Charlotte

Charlotte, North Carolina.

Pgiam/Getty Images


Morning rush hour: 62 mph, 12% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 62 mph, 24% faster than usual

Denver — 24% faster

Denver

Denver.

Brad McGinley Photography/Getty Images


Morning rush hour: 62 mph, 13% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 62 mph, 24% faster than usual

Washington, DC — 27% faster

Washington DC 2

An almost empty Pennsylvania Avenue is seen at noon in Washington DC on March 13, 2020.

Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images


Morning rush hour: 57 mph, 22% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 56 mph, 27% faster than usual

Boston — 29% faster

Boston

I-93 in Boston around 9 a.m.

Boston Globe via Getty Images


Morning rush hour: 61 mph, 33% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 60 mph, 29% faster than usual

San Antonio — 31% faster

San Antonio texas

A highway in San Antonio, Texas.

AP Photo/Eric Gay


Morning rush hour: 64 mph, 13% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 64 mph, 31% faster than usual

Seattle — 31% faster

FILE PHOTO: A car moves along an empty highway during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Seattle, Washington, U.S. March 30, 2020.  REUTERS/David Ryder

Seattle.

Reuters


Morning rush hour: 59 mph, 23% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 59 mph, 31% faster than usual

Baltimore — 32% faster

baltimore

Baltimore.

Robert Laberge/Getty Images


Morning rush hour: 58 mph, 30% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 58 mph, 32% faster than usual

Detroit — 32% faster

Detroit are shown Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told Michigan residents to stay at home beginning Tuesday, in her most sweeping order of the coronavirus crisis.

Roads leading into Detroit on March 24.


Paul Sancya/AP Photo



Morning rush hour: 55 mph, 11% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 57 mph, 32% faster than usual

Portland, Oregon — 32% faster

Portland highway

A Portland, Oregon, highway.

Steve Dykes/Getty Images


Morning rush hour: 54 mph, 20% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 55 mph, 32% faster than usual

Atlanta — 33% faster

atlanta highway

Light traffic into downtown Atlanta during the coronavirus pandemic.

AP Photo/John Bazemore


Morning rush hour: 61 mph, 26% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 58 mph, 33% faster than usual

Dallas — 34% faster

dallas road empty coronavirus

A normally busy road leading to Dallas on March 24.


LM Otero/AP Photo



Morning rush hour: 62 mph, 19% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 61 mph, 34% faster than usual

San Diego — 34% faster

San Diego

A stretch of Interstate 8 is empty as a sign encourages hand washing on March 15, 2020 in San Diego, California.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images


Morning rush hour: 64 mph, 20% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 64 mph, 34% faster than usual

Orlando, Florida — 35% faster

orlando highway

Interstate 4 in Orlando, Florida, is empty during the coronavirus pandemic.

Alex Menendez/Getty Images


Morning rush hour: 56 mph, 12% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 57 mph, 35% faster than usual

Miami — 38% faster

miami street

A normally busy Miami street during the coronavirus pandemic.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images


Morning rush hour: 58 mph, 26% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 61 mph, 38% faster than usual

New York — 40% faster

New York City empty coronavirus

A man crosses a nearly empty 5th Avenue midtown Manhattan.


REUTERS/Mike Segar



Morning rush hour: 54 mph, 32% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 55 mph, 40% faster than usual

Houston — 44% faster

houston highway

Light traffic going into downtown Houston on March 25, 2020.

AP Photo/David J. Phillip


Morning rush hour: 64 mph, 26% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 62 mph, 44% faster than usual

Tampa, Florida — 44% faster

Tampa highway

Tampa, Florida.

Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images


Morning rush hour: 56 mph, 11% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 58 mph, 44% faster than usual

Los Angeles — 59% faster

Los Angeles Highway

The 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles, California on March 15, 2020.

Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images


Morning rush hour: 60 mph, 46% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 59 mph, 59% faster than usual

San Francisco — 60% faster

San Francisco

Two pedestrians cross an empty street on March 16, 2020 in San Francisco.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


Morning rush hour: 58 mph, 51% faster than usual

Evening rush hour: 57 mph, 60% faster than usual

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