The number of drivers on the road this Thanksgiving was down compared to prior Thursdays, according to an analysis of our Openroad and TrueMotion Family apps. The analysis shows that just over 59% of drivers were on the road this past Thursday, a 16.5% drop. The average percentage of drivers on Thursdays going back through October was 71.5%.
Trips per driver were down as well, falling nearly 40%. The average number of trips on Thanksgiving was 1.7, compared to 2.8 trips for other Thursdays. An average of 1.7 trips means that drivers most likely visited one location and then returned home.
People were also traveling farther distances on Thanksgiving. The miles per trip increased over 16% on Thanksgiving. The average miles driven for Thanksgiving was 12.4 compared to 10.5 on prior Thursdays.
When taken together, the data creates a picture of fewer people on the road traveling to one location farther away than usual and then returning home. This looks like typical Thanksgiving travel patterns. In 2018, we saw the number of total trips drop over 40% on Thanksgiving.
But when the roads open up, bad driving behaviors come out to play. Thanksgiving has been a bad day for distracted driving in the past. 2020 was no different. Distracted driving – texting and app use – increased nearly 13% on Thanksgiving, from 5.5% to 6.2%.
Speeding jumped by 43% on Thanksgiving. On prior Thursdays, drivers spent an average of 2.8% of their time speeding, meaning that for every hour on the road, they drive over 10 MPH over the speed limit for 1 minute and 40 seconds. On Thanksgiving, people drove at high speeds for nearly 2 minutes and 30 seconds for every hour on the road.
These dangerous driving conditions aren’t isolated to Thanksgiving. When there are fewer people on the roads, drivers go faster and are distracted more often. We saw the same effects back in March with the start of the lockdowns. Fewer people were driving, but distraction and speeding were up significantly.
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