May 2020 | News | Takeaways

Big Wheels Keep on Turnin'

Tags: Trucking, Transportation

Trucks continue to move—in many cases faster than usual—to respond to the demands placed on the industry by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new data from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI).

For example, at the intersection of I-85 and I-285 in Atlanta, known locally as Spaghetti Junction, afternoon rush-hour truck speeds are typically slower than 15 mph due to congestion. Currently, truck speeds average 53 mph, finds ATRI's data.

Among the hardest hit states, New York, California, and Illinois, the data shows similar changes:

  • In New York, along I-495 in Queens, the afternoon rush typically sees average truck speeds of 16 mph. Speeds have now more than doubled, averaging 38 mph—still below the posted speed limit, but certainly an improvement.
  • In Los Angeles, at the intersection of I-710 and I-105, truck speeds during highly congested morning rush hours are normally less than 25 mph between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Truck speeds now average 53 mph in the morning as Californians stay home, and truck deliveries have increased.
  • At the Byrne Interchange in Chicago, where I-290 intersects with I-90 and I-94, morning truck speeds now average 43 mph, more than twice the typical morning rush-hour speed of 20 mph.

Several factors related to COVID-19 account for these results. One is the dramatic reduction in commuter traffic, allowing trucks to operate at higher speeds, particularly during traditional rush hours. Another is the 24/7 truck operations that generate higher average truck speeds during nearly all hours of the day.






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