KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Fewer cars are on Michigan roads since restrictions were put in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, the Michigan Department of Transportation says.
Data from MDOT shows traffic volumes were down about 25% on March 23, the day the governor ordered people to stay at home, compared with a year ago. On March 24, the day after the order went into effect, the number dropped further to 45%.
Nick Schirripa, a spokesperson for MDOT, says these are historic drops in traffic volumes.
“I think at least to some extent, we can say people are taking the coronavirus, the COVID-19 threat, seriously and we’re seeing some serious decreases,” Schirripa said.
The Grand Rapids region saw a drop of 52%, with 327,598 vehicles on the road March 24 and 688,876 on the same day in 2019. The Kalamazoo area saw a similar decrease.
“There were 300,000 vehicles on the road (in 2019) and two days ago there was just over 154,000 vehicles on the road, which is a decrease of more than 48%,” Schirripa said.
MDOT collects traffic data from a series of sensors placed along interstates and state highways.
“The hardware is mounted in the same places that our traffic cameras are mounted. It’s not the traffic camera itself, it’s a completely different piece of hardware, but mounted in the same place,” Schirripa explained.
The drop in traffic will likely be one recorded in the history books.
“A 50% decrease in traffic volumes today versus a year ago today, that is huge. That is very significant. That is totally against anything we’ve seen in the past,” Schirripa said.
To compare Michigan’s traffic with several other states, you can visit the MS2 website.