The average family car is only ever in use for 4% of its working life. The rest of the time it sits in the garage, on the drive, or parked next to the office. Today, however, it is lucky to get even a cursory weekend run out to the supermarket. With many parts of the world under stay-at-home orders and other travel restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the self-proclaimed "data geeks" at Tom-Tom are using location data gleaned from more than 600 million connected devices to measure and track traffic across the world and help authorities and organizations make informed mobility decisions.  Working from home has become mandatory for many. Non-essential shops and public places have been closed. Factories and offices are in lockdown. As the infection numbers are mounting and the health care system is facing a difficult test, an obvious question arises: Do these measures work?

In 2019, the average extra time spent in traffic was 87 minutes. Now, in many cities, for the first time in years, roads are traffic-free. Vehicles have all but disappeared from some of the busiest cities in the world and traffic volumes have been reduced by almost 85% from pre-COVID levels. These patterns are a fascinating snapshot into the impact that COVID-19 has had across the world, and demonstrates the willingness of people to restrict their movements to contain the spread of the coronavirus. While some traffic movements are still essential – to stock supermarket shelves and for key workers to get to hospitals – many journeys that are deemed unnecessary have been curbed.

These before and after maps of Los Angeles represent the decline in traffic congestion due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

To see the scale of the change in mobility patterns, Tom-Tom performed an analysis of the top ten cities in the world with the highest traffic reduction, using the average traffic figures from the week of January 20 compared to the ones from the week of March 30. Taking Milan as an example, this means that the average traffic in the city was 84.78% lower than what you would expect to see in a normal week. 

The top ten cities in the world for traffic reduction include:

  • 1. Milan, Italy – 84.78%
  • 2. Paris, France – 84.10%
  • 3. Rome, Italy – 83.80%
  • 4. Madrid, Spain – 83.27%
  • 5. Monaco, Monaco – 79.44%
  • 6. Barcelona, Spain – 81.04%
  • 7. Manchester, UK – 75.65%
  • 8. Lisbon, Portugal – 75.54%
  • 9. Lyon, France – 73.66%
  • 10. Boston, USA – 73.40%