New Study Finds Dramatic Increases in Truck Speeds Amid COVID-19 Travel Restrictions

Arlington, VA – New GPS data released by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) reveals dramatic increases in truck speeds amid the reduction of commuter traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, ATRI released results from a study which collected GPS data from more than one million trucks since the coronavirus outbreak began.

The results showed dramatic increases in truck speeds at some of America’s most congested bottlenecks.


For example, according to ATRI’s data, at the intersection of I-85 and I-285 in Atlanta, known locally as Spaghetti Junction, afternoon rush hour truck speeds are typically less than 15 MPH due to congestion.

However, last week, truck speeds averaged 53 MPH.

“Spaghetti Junction is typical of what we’ve seen across the country, especially in areas hit hard by the virus and subject to quarantines and lockdowns,” said Rebecca Brewster, ATRI president and COO. “As other traffic dissipates, trucks continue to move, delivering much-needed relief supplies to markets, hospitals, gas stations and other essential businesses.”

More examples from ATRI’s findings come from states in which governors have issued stay at home orders such as New York, California, and Illinois.


For instance, in New York, along I-495 in Queens, the afternoon rush hour typically sees average truck speeds of 16 MPH.

Speeds have now more than doubled, averaging 38 MPH, still below the posted speed limit but certainly an improvement.


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In Los Angeles, at the intersection of I-710 and I-105, truck speeds during highly congested morning rush hours are normally less than 25 MPH between the hours of 6 and 8 a.m.

Truck speeds are now averaging 53 MPH in the morning as Californians stay home but truck deliveries increase.

ATRI also pointed to the Byrne Interchange in Chicago, where I-290 intersects with I-90/I-94, where morning truck speeds are now averaging 43 MPH, more than twice the typical morning rush hour speed of 20 MPH.


According to ATRI’s analysis, the results can be explained by several COVID-19 related factors: first is the dramatic reduction in commuter traffic, allowing trucks to operate at higher speeds, particularly during traditional rush hours.

Second, is the continuous 24/7 truck operations that generate higher average truck speeds across nearly all hours of the day.

Each year ATRI publishes its list of trucking’s top bottlenecks throughout the U.S.

Click HERE to check out its list for 2020.



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