COVID-19 related lockdowns, school closures, and work from home sharply reduced roadway travel. However, each state implemented mandates differently. Can we extrapolate how roadway travel in the U.S. affected the spread of COVID-19? A new paper in the Journal of Transportation Engineering, Part A: Systems, “Multistate Assessment of Roadway Travel, Social Separation, and COVID-19 Cases,” does just that.

Using traffic volumes from 10 diverse states, authors Scott Parr, Brian Wolshon, Pamela Murray-Tuite, and Tim Lomax analyze COVID-19 case progression. The paper provides details of the actions taken (and when) by governmental authorities and how these affected roadway travel, as well as how travel related to the virus spread. Practitioners, governmental, and researchers will find this useful for planning for future pandemics. Learn more in the abstract below, then read the full paper in the ASCE Library.


This research was undertaken to comparatively assess the unprecedented travel and activity conditions related to the onset of coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19) in the US in the first half of 2020. In this effort, roadway traffic volumes were used to relate government directives for social separation and COVID-19 case progression in ten diversely populated and located states. Among the key contributions of the research were its illustration of the amount and time scale of public response to activity restrictions across the country and the general finding that overall, governmental directives, as reflected in rapid traffic decreases, likely served their purpose. Another key finding was that by June 1st, no state had completely returned to routine levels of travel. Combined, the results of this study illustrate the effect of governmental action with respect to the course of the virus, including how varied timings of responses reflected outcomes based on the levels of threat and characteristics of individual locations. It is expected that this paper will be of use to practitioners, governmental, and researchers to assess and develop plans for future similar major events and emergencies.

Read the full paper it the ASCE Library: