The coronavirus has caused countries around the world into lockdown, affecting all modes of transportation. As we’ve discussed before, the pandemic has a dramatic impact on passenger and commercial vehicles – including vehicles miles travel (VMT) and speeds – and Germany is no exception.
Germany is unique in that its strict lockdown did not last nearly as long as other European countries. They began the slow process of reopening the country in late April, roughly 6 weeks since the initial lockdown. While taking a closer look at how VMT has changed throughout the pandemic, we found that it drastically fell on 16 March, when the country first began their strict lockdown period. In just the first week of lockdown, the country’s passenger VMT fell to about 40% of normal. For the following three weeks, VMT fluctuated around 45-55% of normal.
Holidays in Germany also impacted VMT, showing spikes leading into the long weekends but lower levels of driving on the specific holiday. In July, Germany returned to pre-COVID levels staying around normal on weekdays while spiking to nearly 120% of normal on weekends.
Compared to passenger vehicles, COVID had a smaller effect on heavy goods vehicles (HGV). During the strict lockdown, HGV’s VMT stayed just below 80% of normal. HGV had large drops on Bank holiday’s like Easter, reaching as low as 20% of normal. There were consistent spikes on weekends, reaching around 120% of normal.
Due to fewer people on the roads, vehicle speeds have improved in major cities around the world. For example, we ran speed comparisons in two of Germany’s major cities since the lockdown: Hamburg and Berlin. The week before the lockdown was implemented, vehicles in both cities drove about 4 KPH slower than the week of March 16th, when lockdown was implemented. Vehicle speeds decreased as these cities open again. Comparing the week of March 16th to the week of July 20th, vehicles are now traveling about 10 KPH slower at about 2pm.
Germany’s passenger VMT is closely tied to the economy and COVID-19. As news reports hint that Germany may be hitting a second wave, INRIX will continue to monitor the situation on the ground.
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