There is some good news, at least.
Americans are indeed driving less — up to 94 percent less in some places — as the global COVID-19 pandemic keeps people at home, but rural segments of the country are not doing their share to flatten the curve, the result of a patchwork of rules set in statehouses rather than at the White House.
New vehicle miles traveled stats released today by StreetLight Data and Cuebiq, which compiles cellphone location data, confirm what everyone has been seeing anecdotally — that driving is down — but it’s not down consistently.
The national map (above and linked here) shows that driving has decreased by far less across a wide portion of the American southeast — where mandatory stay-at-home orders have been issued late. As such, we’ve thrown in a few representative cities at the bottom of this story. (The 94-percent drop is a bit of a statistical anomaly; it’s from Nantucket, Massachusetts, which, being an island, doesn’t get a lot of pass-through traffic.)
There are also some small rural counties where driving has increased during the crisis. In Big Horn county, Montana, driving is up 8 percent. In Harlan County, Century, it’s up 46 percent. In Jackson County, Tennessee, it’s up 54 percent.
Local governments around the country will likely use the data to project shortfalls from such revenue sources as tolls and gas taxes, but the same municipalities could use the regularly updated information to compare residents’ movements to the spread of the illness.
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