Traffic Volumes Heading Back Up As Indiana Gradually Reopens

slide from state officials’ May 20 COVID-19 briefing

Hoosiers are gradually getting back on the roads after the coronavirus shutdown. INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness gave an update on traffic volumes during state officials’ COVID-19 press conference Wednesday.

“During the first few weeks of the stay-at-home order, we saw most traffic was down approximately 40 percent compared to the first week of March, with much more significant declines on the weekends,” McGuinness explained. “This is a great indication that Hoosiers were heeding the advice of the governor, [State Health Commissioner] Dr. [Kris] Box, and all medical professionals. As you can see, Indiana has begun the process of getting back on track.”

As of Tuesday, Indiana’s traffic volume was down just 17 percent from early March, after bottoming out at a 57-percent decline on Easter Sunday, April 12.

With fewer cars on the road, there have also been fewer crashes. Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter reported that the number of crashes is down by almost 22,000 compared to this point last year. There have been 25 fewer fatal crashes, resulting in 31 fewer deaths.

“There are many reasons for that,” Carter said. “Number one is obviously that people are not moving like they did before. But number two, I really believe that this has changed behavior, and I hope that that behavior continues.”

Carter reminded motorists that Indiana officially becomes a hands-free state on July 1. “So there’s no better time to change behavior than now, and maybe dropping an old habit and picking up a new one – not literally – but maybe now is the time to do that,” Carter added. “I can tell you that I’m working at it, and I hope you are, as well.”

McGuinness also said the reduced traffic has allowed INDOT to speed up construction projects around the state. Carter urged Hoosiers to pay attention in work zones, noting that they were particularly deadly last year. INDOT plans to suspend most road construction and maintenance activities over the Memorial Day weekend, but some closures and lane restrictions will remain in place.

Lanes remain closed on I-65 in Lake County from U.S. 231 to Ridge Road, and on I-80/94 at the I-65 interchange. In Allen County I-469 has multiple projects with lane restrictions and reduced speeds. A number of restrictions remain on I-70 through Central Indiana.