Data shows quieter roads in South Africa’s cities

Location technology specialist, TomTom has published its latest Traffic Index, a report detailing the traffic congestion in 2020 in over 400 cities in 57 countries, including South Africa.

Although the ranking of the world’s most congested cities has shifted very little from 2019, the big change is how far congestion levels have fallen due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Out of the 416 cities included in the Index, 387 saw a significant decrease (average of 21%) in congestion, and a 28% average decrease in congestion during rush hours, bucking a trend that has seen congestion increase by an average of 2-3% year-on-year.

TomTom’s traffic data is powered by 600 million connected devices.

Ralf-Peter Schäfer, TomTom’s VP of traffic and travel, said: “Last year, we announced that global congestion levels in 2019 had increased for the ninth consecutive Traffic Index. In 2020, we saw a vastly different picture. From lockdowns to closed borders, people movement changed – and it changed very fast.”

TomTom’s experts do not expect the roads to stay so uncongested unless there’s a concerted and deliberate change in driver behaviour, supported by policy makers and, importantly, employers.

Although the global pandemic has created an opportunity to change traffic forever, will people embrace the shift in mobility and take a new path towards a cleaner, congestion-free future?

For example, an end to the rush hour could even be possible through flexible working hours, working from home, and a smart approach to using traffic data to determine the best times to travel.

“Although traffic congestion was down in 2020, it’s not going to become a trend unless we take action. We might even see traffic levels shoot up again as people get back to work and back into old routines. That’s why now is the time that city planners, policy makers, employers – and drivers – must take stock of what they will do to make the roads less congested in the future,” said Schäfer.

The ranking

Moscow, Russia, with a 54% congestion level, is ranked as the most traffic congested city in the world in 2020, topping Bengaluru, India – the most congested city in 2019, which fell to 6th place in 2020.

The rankings feature six cities in South Africa, with Cape Town again taking top spot, and 132nd most congested city globally. Collectively, these cities reported 79 days (average) with low traffic

Days with the congestion level lower more than 50% in comparison to respecting days in 2019.

In 2020, TomTom said it observed the mass exodus of people from capitals across Europe. The day before second lockdown was the most congested day in Athens and London in 2020. Meanwhile in Paris, traffic jams reached a record length.

  • Paris, 29 October, 18:00 – 142%
  • London, 4 November, 17:00 – 104%
  • Athens, 6 November, 18:00 – 123%

Read: South Africa’s strict new driving laws planned for this year

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Data shows quieter roads in South Africa’s cities