Increase in traffic volumes will be watched with interest as Covid-19 restrictions ease

Increase in traffic volumes will be watched with interests as Covid-19 restrictions ease

Traffic is expected to increase in the coming week

The AA expects roads to be busier next week as certain categories of businesses open up again. 

The busy Lifford-Strabane crossing saw the number of vehicles jump by a massive 32% on an average workday at the start of this month, compared with the first week of the lockdown.

Figures for last week, released by the Automobile Association, show that the traffic flow from the east Donegal town into Tyrone has been fairly steady in the last two weeks.

It reported that on a typical weekday around 6,900 journeys are being recorded over Lifford Bridge, according to an on-road static counter.

As the country prepares to enter the first phase of the Government’s plan to ease the COVID-19 restrictions, the expectation is that the roads will be busier.

However, many motorists surveyed by AA Ireland say they plan to drive less.

In response to a recent survey of over 7,000 people undertaken by AA Car Insurance, 31.40% of respondents indicated that they intend on reducing their car use in the months ahead – even after the COVID-19 restrictions have been eased. Similarly, the survey found that 37.26% of respondents were likely to limit their use of public transport following the outbreak.

“As a result of the widespread transition to working from home that many of us have experienced, it’s likely that we will see big changes in typical commuter behaviour even as we transition back to a degree of normality,” said Director of Consumer Affairs Conor Faughnan.

“For as long as social distancing remains a part of our way of life, offices, for example, are unlikely to be able to return to maximum capacity. We’ll have more home working and we will probably have smaller rush hours. This, combined with nervousness around using public transport means that we may be weeks or months away from seeing traffic volumes return to pre-COVID levels.”

While the survey found that car usage may decline in the months ahead, recent weeks have seen a steady increase in traffic* and breakdown volumes – indicating that motorists are beginning to travel more regularly than they had in the early days of the restrictions. 

In recent days, AA Rescue breakdown callouts have continued to increase and returning to a level that the organisation typically saw before the COVID-19 outbreak. 

In the period since the 5km radius was introduced on 5 May, the AA has attended to an average of 324 breakdowns during weekdays with a peak of 385 breakdowns on the Tuesday, 5 May. 

Similarly, Transport Infrastructure Ireland data of main routes across the country has found that traffic levels continue to increase week by week.

“As some of the restrictions have been eased and the permitted travel radius increased, we have seen people start to travel more regularly – however all evidence seems to point to the fact that they are still only undertaking essential travel,” Faughnan added. “However, traffic levels are still far below what we would normally see at this time of year and we can expect that pattern to continue for the weeks ahead.”

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