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Here's How Much Less We're Driving On LA Freeways Right Now

The roads are eerily open. This is morning rush hour on March 19. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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I’ve been reporting on how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting transportation — including its impact on air quality issues caused by transportation.

It’s abundantly clear that there are way fewer cars on Southern California freeways in the age of coronavirus. Now, about a month into our region’s official stay-at-home phase of the global health crisis, we are getting a better picture of the impact on traffic.

I reached out to Caltrans — which monitors and measures traffic flow on our freeways — to ask what differences they’re seeing on the roads. The agency’s Traffic Operations Division sent over sets of data measuring Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), which is calculated by adding up all the miles driven by cars and trucks on roadways in a specific time period.

The data showed that, in the five weeks from March 2 to April 6, freeway VMT countywide fell about 34%. Caltrans also crunched VMT specifically for heavy trucks and found it also dropped by a third, from 1.8 million to 1.2 million.

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(Dana Amihere / LAist)

Looking at the breakdown by freeway (provided for segments within Los Angeles city limits), the 2, 134 and 210 freeways saw traffic volume drop by roughly half or more in that five-week period. Vehicle miles on the 405 Freeway (again, within L.A. city limits) decreased an average of 45% in that time period, Caltrans reported.

For the full list of local freeways and more on why it's still too early to determine how our reduced traffic is affecting air quality:


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