Road traffic increased this year, but not to pre-pandemic levels

This became a more common sight in 2021 as drivers returned to the roads.

Enlarge / This became a more common sight in 2021 as drivers returned to the roads. (credit: Getty Images)

As we head towards the end of the second year of a global pandemic, the effect of COVID-19 on road traffic around the world is clear to see. Congestion has begun to return, though not everywhere, and not to 2019 levels. Traffic patterns have changed, too, with more traffic popping up in the middle of the day as commuters continue to stay away from the office. That’s according to the 2021 Inrix Global Traffic Scorecard, an annual report prepared by the traffic analytics company.

Here in the US, Chicago and New York are the worst cities for traffic, with their drivers giving up 104 hours and 102 hours of their lives respectively to congestion in 2021. Inrix actually ranks New York as number one in the country due to the higher costs this imposes on the city, despite the fact that Chicagoans spent an extra couple of hours behind the wheel. However, traffic in both cities remains almost 30 percent down from pre-pandemic levels.

Other cities have yet to show as much recovery. Washington DC stands out, with traffic still 65 percent lower than in 2019, which translates to 80 fewer hours in traffic per person.

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