Is it wrong to say I miss pandemic level traffic?    I just tried to pull out of the parking lot from the Town Square Media studios at 4010 Summitview to get lunch and the traffic both east and westbound on Summitview was crazy.  It took a couple of minutes at least.  Whoa...now I know that is nothing by any big city standards but it wasn't that long ago that the streets of Yakima seemed almost deserted.

Not Alone Feeling Alone

During the thick of the pandemic the traffic was practically zero and I never and I mean NEVER had to wait for a vehicle of any kind.  It was sad, it was strange, and may I ruthlessly add it was totally convenient for those of us who were allowed to go to work every day.  Yup, radio was "essential".

New numbers for traffic during that time show I wasn't alone in my feeling alone.  According to the research, the average number of all daily personal car trips dropped 45% in April 2020 and 40% for trips by all modes of transportation combined. The downturn in travel upticked a bit later in the year but remained below 2019 levels.

Who Was affected Most

Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says, “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on our commute habits and patterns in the United States.”  No kidding.  Many folks worked from or didn't work and for those who did venture out, there was nowhere for them to go!

As is often the case in restricts, the young and the oldest were affected first but by mid-2020 reductions in travel were more uniform across various age groups.  Living in the Yakima Valley and ag country our overall trips declined 25% compared to more urban areas where more people were able to move their work from office to den or kitchen table.  Their trips were down by 42%.

In previous stories, you may recall reading about how the forced closeness of the pandemic was good for a lot of marriages as couples were "forced" to reconnect.  the number back that up too.  The percentage of married people staying home nearly tripled from 8% in 2019 to 22% in April 2020.

Please Stay Safe

But here's the part that doesn't make sense.  Despite fewer cars on the road and more people staying home, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently estimated that 38,680 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2020 — the largest projected number of fatalities since 2007.

We don't want any more fatalities now that more of us are on the road...so I guess my chicken sandwich can wait a couple of minutes more.  Let's be careful out there.

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