#stayathome – to stem the spread of Coronavirus, we have cut down our interaction with the outside world for weeks now. Around the globe life is in lockdown – with an obvious impact on car traffic.

Cities worldwide record an all-time low of rush-hour traffic. New York City, for example, registered reductions of 43 percent as result of measures taken to curtail the pandemic. In Britain, road travel plummeted by as much as 73%, to levels not witnessed since 1955.

PTV developers have now introduced a new interactive map to measure and visualize the changes in traffic volume. The map is based on aggregated and anonymized mobile phone data provided by the Swiss mobility insights company Teralytics.

In a first analysis the mobility experts compared the traffic volumes across Germany on Easter Sunday (April 12th) to the previous Sunday. Did the number of trips rose due to beautiful weather during the holidays or did people keep to the restrictions?

map of Germany
PTV experts developed the first nation-wide coronavirus traffic map.

“There has been 26 % more car traffic on Easter Sunday. Especially in the Northern and Western part of Germany, people traveled. In Bavaria and Saxony, on the other hand, there was only a slight increase in traffic, which could be explained by the more restrictive COVID-19 rules of those federal states,” says Matthias Hormuth, Head of Product at PTV. “We can also see an increase in the number of trips to leisure regions such as the Bavarian Forest, the Black Forest or the Northern coast. On the main motorways, however, things remained calm. Thus, there was more regional visiting and leisure trips but less long-distance traffic”.

It is also interesting to look at travel behavior in comparison to previous year. Traffic has dropped by 78 % compared to Easter Sunday 2019.

Interactive map with details

The digital map can be successively expanded to other countries and evaluations. It will then be possible to illustrate the effects of further measures on travel behavior and traffic – when authorities start relaxing restriction for example. What happens on the road when countries are softening their COVID-19 lockdown measures? How will the traffic volume change when schools, shops or restaurants reopen?

Matthias Hormuth says, the technology can be used beyond this crisis: “Various traffic-related issues can be examined. Authorities and traffic planners receive detailed and meaningful figures on traffic volume and the impact on the road network. The interactive map gives important clues and can back-up decisions in the process of shaping the mobility of the future. For industry, commercial and service companies, this information can be relevant for the choice of location and optimization of service offerings.”

For the map PTV Group’s traffic experts refine the Teralytics data and visualize car and truck traffic on the road network in a national transportation  model. Thus authorities, traffic management centers and enterprises can rely on meaningful figures of traffic volume and the road network load down to the last detail.

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