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Not Surprising: Pandemic Led to Huge Drop in Traffic

Highway traffic tumbled last year during the height of coronavirus restrictions that saw normally jam-packed freeways in major cities blissfully free of cars, a faint silver lining in what otherwise was a deep cloud of doom.

TomTom, the Dutch company that logs traffic data and supplies major automakers with navigation software, found a huge drop in highway traffic beginning in mid-March last year, though many cities outside China, Europe, and North America are back to normal levels. Overall, however, 387 of the 400 global cities surveyed by TomTom saw traffic drop last year, and those with an uptick in traffic saw only modest gains.

In the U.S., Los Angeles and New York experienced far less congestion at the tail end of 2020, though both inched closer to the amount of road traffic the two cities would typically see. Year-over-year, LA saw traffic drop 15 percent, and New York slid 11 percent.

Los Angeles was again the most congested city, followed by New York, Miami, San Francisco and, oddly enough, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Drivers in smaller cities on in the Midwest, South, and East Coast experienced the lowest amount of congestion, with Greensboro-High Point, North Carolina, emerging as the nation’s (and in fact the world’s) least traffic-congested area. Among larger cities, St. Louis, Cleveland, Richmond, Milwaukee, and Indianapolis had the least traffic.

Globally, TomTom found that roads were congested at least half of the day in a handful of cities, including Moscow, Mumbai, Bogota, Manila, Istanbul, Bengaluru, and Kyiv. Perhaps don’t plan to get anywhere quickly should you plan to visit one of those cities once the pandemic eases away.

Andrew Ganz
Andrew Ganz
Andrew Ganz is an author specializing in helping in-market consumers get the most bang for their buck -- and the best car, while they're at it. When not virtually shopping for new and used cars, Andrew can probably be found under the hood of a vintage classic that's rapidly losing fluids.

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