61 Million Americans Have Stopped Commuting Due to COVID-19

Staff Report

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

The coronavirus has upended nearly every aspect of life in the United States, and Americans' driving behaviors and commutes are no exception. A new survey from ValuePenguin.com by LendingTree found that a large number of drivers no longer have daily commutes as they are working from home or have lost employment due to COVID-19, but this trend is starting to reverse as more Americans head back to work and school. 

  • 3 in 10 Americans with a motor vehicle said they no longer have a commute due to COVID-19, either because they're working from home (19%) or they were laid off or furloughed (10%). Yet 26% are back to their daily commute as of August, including essential workers and those whose employers reopened their offices.

  • Some people are driving more than others: A significant number of parents with kids under 18 (47%) continue to hit the road daily. And 43% of people in New England, are driving every day too. Americans of retirement age are much less likely to drive every day. Only 22% of baby boomers and 22.5% of the silent generation were using their cars daily in August.

  • Has there been a significant decrease in traffic? Of those surveyed, 38% of Americans said traffic remains reduced in their area amid the pandemic, though an additional 36% said that while traffic had previously dropped it is now back to pre-pandemic levels.

  • The number of drivers who get gas weekly dropped by 26% in August versus prior to the pandemic. In January and February, 43% of drivers said they filled up at least once a week, but just 32% said they currently do so that frequently. At the same time, the number of drivers who fill up their tank less often than once per month doubled from 4% to 8%.

  • More than a quarter of drivers made cost-cutting changes to their auto insurance amid the pandemic. About 14% switched to another provider that was offering better deals, 12% reduced the amount of coverage since they are driving less and 3% took one of their household's vehicles off the policy because their family is using fewer cars.

  • More than one in six consumers stopped using rideshare services like Lyft and Uber altogether due to the pandemic. 13% said they're still using those services, but much less frequently.

According to Matt Timmons, a research analyst at ValuePenguin.com, "Some savvy consumers are using their decreased driving to their advantage and are paying less for gas and auto insurance." He adds, "While they may need to roll back those changes as driving returns to normal, most consumers don't expect normalcy to return anytime soon — meaning it may be worth drivers' while to assess their auto insurance and other car use related expenses and consider making changes."

ValuePenguin.com commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,105 Americans, with the sample base proportioned to represent the overall population. The survey was fielded August 13–17, 2020. To view the full report, visit: https://www.valuepenguin.com/commutes-plummet-after-coronavirus