StreetLight Data publishes 2020 traffic metrics for the USA, with key Covid insights

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Mobility analytics firm StreetLight Data has unveiled its comprehensive 2020 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT) counts for the USA, which will help some agencies to fill in gaps in their data caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2020 lockdowns upended traffic, kept agencies from deploying counts, and threw out many normal means of transportation data collection. For some agencies none of the traditional approaches of “extrapolation” made sense in 2020; for others, normal collection was limited due to safety concerns and traffic patterns reflecting nothing like “typical conditions.”

StreetLight’s validated AADT Metrics cover virtually every US roadway, urban and rural, filling an important gap for transportation planning – for the fourth year in a row.

“It has never been more valuable to have real, timely, nationwide AADT data,” says StreetLight CEO Laura Schewel (above). “Expansion factors were rendered useless given last year’s unprecedented traffic volatility, and long-range planning was handicapped by the lack of a pre-pandemic baseline for many of America’s roadways. With another year of validated AADT available from a desktop computer, StreetLight InSight offers planners a wealth of traffic data unavailable anywhere else.”

How different was AADT in 2020? According to the Golden Gate Bridge Operations website, the bridge typically carries around 112,000 vehicles per day. StreetLight’s 2020 AADT reports just 81,000 vehicles per day, which represents a 37% decrease – a massive pandemic-driven delta characteristic of many roadways across the US.

AADT is the industry’s fundamental metric for analyzing infrastructure projects and congestion, estimating road safety, and enabling empirical measurement for approving highway funds. Before StreetLight InSight, AADT counts were collected via permanent or temporary physical sensors, limited to a fraction of U.S. roadways. The 2020 pandemic disrupted measurement and placed a new premium on field personnel safety: both issues are addressed by StreetLight’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that delivers AADT for virtually any roadway in mere minutes.

Based on over 40 billion monthly location records across the country, collected from smartphones, connected cars and trucks, StreetLight’s algorithms draw on 365 days of data on more than four million miles of roadway.  Available for urban and rural roads big and small, the company’s AADT 2020 counts outperform industry-standard accuracy targets, as published today in StreetLight Data’s 2020 AADT Methodology and Validation white paper, available on request.

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About Author

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).