We all know that 2020 led to numerous changes in the way people lived their everyday lives, and how their time was spent. But one of these changes that might not immediately come to mind is the time no longer spent in traffic every single day.

“Now, if you’re already a resident of a major city, especially one that underwent strict shelter-in-place orders in 2020, you already know that traffic got a lot lighter. It turns out that when businesses are closed and people are asked to stay home, there’s generally less traffic, but exactly how big of a difference was there? If you live in a major city in the US, that difference was somewhere around 50%. That works out to approximately 75 fewer hours spent in traffic over the year. That almost two standard, full-time work weeks that you got back. Of course, there wasn’t necessarily a lot that you could do with those hours.”

This change, of course, can be attributed to working from home, and the self quarantining that people were doing in order to stay as safe as possible. But this change did not only occur in the United States. This phenomenon of less traffic was seen globally. Countries all over the world had significant decreases in the amount of traffic they were seeing, leading to countless hours being regained by people due to less time spent in traffic.

Why is this significant?

So why does this matter? Why is this decrease in time spent have significance?

There are many reasons this is significant. It shows how things such as working from home, and less trips to places can dramatically shift a person’s life, as well as the city around them. Not only are people regaining more hours due to not spending that time, but those that do go out will still regain time because of how few people are out.

Not only that, but the decrease in cars on the road leads to less gas usage, air pollution, and other adverse effects on the environment that cars have.

Will the amounts of traffic go back to completely normal for the averages of years before COVID 19?

None can say, as the numbers are still less than they would usually be in such times, but perhaps they eventually will go back up to pre-Covid numbers. However, there is certainly a hope that these hours spent could still be less due to so many companies choosing to continue working from home instead of requiring the commute that they previously would have.

We have seen many permanent and lasting changes in our world due to the pandemic shifting the fundamental way we live our lives. Perhaps time spent in traffic will join that list as a decreased number of people on the road continues and this shift becomes “normal.” Or perhaps these hours will go back to how they were before the pandemic, and this shift will quickly become a thing of the past. Only time will tell, as the world continues to move forward from such a strong and complete shift such as the pandemic we experienced.

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