GPS data shows that truckers are driving much faster due to COVID-19 closures

New data released by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) shows that truckers are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering the goods that Americans need — at a much quicker than usual pace.

According to a March 24 news release from the ATRI, truckers are actually traveling faster than usual during the Coronavirus crisis in part because they aren’t sitting in as much traffic as they normally would.

“ATRI’s real-time GPS data comes from more than a million trucks, allowing us to analyze freight flows, and so far in March, what we are seeing is an unprecedented level of truck movement,” said ATRI President and COO Rebecca Brewster. “Not only are trucks continuing to move, but they are doing so at speeds well in excess of normal traffic patterns.”

ATRI researchers made several interesting observations about how much quicker truckers are traveling. Check out the highlights below.

  • At the intersection of I-85 and I-285 in Atlanta, known locally as Spaghetti Junction, afternoon rush hour truck speeds are typically less than 15 MPH due to congestion. Last week, truck speeds averaged 53 MPH. 
  • In New York, along I-495 in Queens, the afternoon rush hour 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 and 8 a.m. Truck speeds are now averaging 53 MPH in the morning as Californians stay home but truck deliveries increase.
  • At the Byrne Interchange in Chicago, where I-290 intersects with I-90/I-94, morning truck speeds are now averaging 43 MPH, more than twice the typical morning rush hour speed of 20 MPH.

The ATRI explains the increased truck speeds by pointing out a “dramatic reduction in commuter traffic” coupled with “continuous 24/7 truck operations that generate higher average truck speeds across nearly all hours of the day.”


“Spaghetti Junction is typical of what we’ve seen across the country, especially in areas hit hard by the virus and subject to quarantines and lockdowns,” Brewster said. “As other traffic dissipates, trucks continue to move, delivering much-needed relief supplies to markets, hospitals, gas stations and other essential businesses.”