Easing Thanksgiving Traffic Congestion Could Be a Challenge Even during a Pandemic

What traffic engineers could do about it.

A recent article in CNN reported that millions of Americans will be traveling for Thanksgiving despite the surge in Covid-19 cases. A new poll showed that 61% of U.S. citizens are likely to change their Thanksgiving plans due to Covid-19 spikes.

And while we hope that Americans adhere to the advice from public health officials and avoid traveling around the holiday, our team at Rhythm Engineering urges all fellow traffic engineers to be cautious about the upcoming holidays and be aware of the changes in city traffic during the pandemic.

Despite the overall decrease in traffic during the pandemic, traffic is here to stay. Here are some of the changes sparked by Covid-19 that traffic engineers should be mindful about moving forward:

  • Throughout the world, city streets are less crowded, but sidewalks and parks are congested. 
  • Because of work flexibility, people tend to drive during times of the day different than typical commute times. 
  • Citizens who used to ride in buses or light rail now drive – concerns about the safety of public transport have increased.
  • Thankfully, traffic collisions have decreased – a trend we hope to remain.
  • There will be almost no crowds at bakeries, grocery stores, liquor stores, movie theaters, and shopping centers, but there’s an increase in vehicles that meet the increased demand for home deliveries.

With regards to Thanksgiving traffic trends, there is a usual increase in roadway fatalities during the holidays (unbuckled vehicle occupants, drunk driving are the main causes for fatalities). Even with less traffic this year, congestions are to be expected, especially in the afternoon hours. 

Flexibility and adaptability are of paramount importance in these times of uncertainty. Here are some tips from our team:

  • Check out how you can create and deploy timing plans as traffic patterns change. Download the Blueprint we put together that outlines a simple and cost-effective 3-step workflow that replaces slow and outdated methods of data collection and timing plan creation.
  • Consider implementing adaptive systems that respond to traffic changes as they occur.
  • Contact one of our traffic engineers to help you understand how to collect data, create a timing plan and control the intersections, all from a single solution. 

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidance urging Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving. But millions of people are still planning to travel over the holiday week.  

Let’s make this a happy Thanksgiving for all!