This is how the pandemic is changing Charlotte driving habits, study shows

CHARLOTTE — Inrix is a leading provider of traffic data and collects information from various sources -- like 70 million GPS-enabled vehicles and mobile devices as well as state department of transportation cameras and sensors on roadways all over the country.

Inrix actually provides a lot of the traffic data Traffic Team 9′s Mark Taylor brings you every morning, and they’ve released a new study on the impacts COVID-19 has had on our roadways.

The study found that between April and July, Charlotte’s traffic volume dropped dramatically, about 26%.

On Sunday, March 15, normal traffic volume essentially stopped, going from “everything is fine” to “major declines.”

Those declines directly correlate with government restrictions and recommendations to help flatten the curve or the pandemic.

On March 14, Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order prohibiting mass gatherings in North Carolina. As more executive orders were issued, fewer people traveled.

Alyssa Gore drives for a living and owns her own oversized load assistant company.

“Out of state a couple of times a week,” she said when asked how much she still drives. “In the cities, it’s pretty busy but out on the country roads, not so far from the city, you see less traffic.”

With fewer people on the roadways, the data shows that drivers went faster. In fact, Inrix reported a 28% speed increase in Charlotte, which has also seen an increase in deadly crashes.

Early federal numbers indicate that traffic fatalities are up 31%, even though traffic accidents are down. In Charlotte, crashes are down 45%.

Major highways like Interstate 77 saw a 15% drop in crashes from the time last year. Wrecks on Interstate 85 are down 17%, and on Interstate 485, that number is down to 24%.

With COVID-19 metrics on the rise across the state, we’re seeing tighter restrictions and more economic impacts, something Gore knows all about.

“I didn’t work a lot during the pandemic,” she said. “It was pretty much people working essential things.”