VMT rising – but still well below normal, says StreetLight Data

Many American drivers remain at home in lead-up to Memorial Day weekend
Classification & Data Collection / May 22, 2020
By Adam Hill
 © Robsonphoto2011 | Dreamstime.com
US drivers are still leaving their automobiles on the drive (© Robsonphoto2011 | Dreamstime.com)

New figures from StreetLight Data suggest that, in the lead-up to the Memorial Day holiday weekend, Americans have been largely staying put rather than taking to the highway.

However, the company's 2020 pre-Memorial Day beach county VMT analysis does show a major uptick in activity - compared with the height of the lockdown - for what is often seen as the unofficial start of summer.

It says: "Virtually all beach counties have seen at least a 200% gain in VMT activity since the low point on Easter." 

And four counties, including Cape Cod, have seen a 50% rise or greater since Mother's Day on 10 May.

US VMT is now 240% higher than its low point in April, with average VMT 32% higher than it was on Mother's Day - which was the busiest Sunday on record since shelter-in-place orders began.

However, for context, these figures need to be set against what 'normal' VMT would look like.

The VMT figure was 7.04 billion on 14 May - but this represents something like a 50% year-on-year decline.

US VMT was down 83% on Easter Sunday (at 2.41 billion miles) – which means that VMT is now around three times what it was at Easter, and is showing a consistent rebound up to the holiday weekend.

But it is still far below what would be expected, confirming that the Covid-19 lockdown has had a significant effect on keeping Americans out of their automobiles.

StreetLight Data's VMT Monitor map is created using anonymised data from smartphones and other GPS-enabled devices, providing county-by-county VMT metrics.  

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