What the driving data says about the future of commuting


  • The pandemic has had an impact on our driving habits, including shorter trips and more fatalities.
  • Arity’s driving data will affect a wide range of industries, from automakers to advertisers.
  • This conversation was part of Insider’s virtual event “The Future of Mobility: Data Driving Innovation” presented by Arity on Tuesday, September 14th.
  • Click here to watch a recording of the full event.

We can’t predict the future, but driving data tells us that some of the biggest changes in consumer behavior are here to stay.

“We have collected over 600 billion kilometers of driving data,” Gary Hallgren, president of mobility analytics platform Arity, said at Insider’s recent virtual event, “The Future of Mobility: Data Driving Innovation ”, presented by Arity. “In fact, you can see that in urban areas there are a lot less drivers. People are moving to the suburbs and people are moving to rural areas. “

The conversation, titled “How Driving Data Can Predict Consumer Behavior,” featured Hallgren alongside Mark Coffey, executive vice president and general manager of the GasBuddy fuel pricing app.

Hallgren explained that Arity’s data had three main conclusions:

  • People are starting to drive again from the height of the pandemic, but they also drive differently. This will have a significant effect on many industries, including insurance and ridesharing.
  • Despite fewer kilometers traveled last year, deaths have increased. The movement of people to suburbs and rural areas may explain the faster driving, but there have been more deaths in 2020 than at any time since 2007.
  • We drove in the morning rush hour most of the time, but that changed around noon during the week. This will have an effect on companies that design apps and advertisers, who will have to rethink when and how they can reach their audience.

Coffey said Arity’s data matches what he sees at GasBuddy in terms of gas consumption. “About 80% of all pipes in the United States are less than 30 miles,” he said.

A silver lining that Coffey sees is that, following the doubling of electric vehicle (EV) sales since the pandemic, the increase in short-haul trips is a factor that will see that number continue to rise. As for the pandemic driving trends that will continue into the future, he believes that when we drive, we will continue to steer away from traditional rush hours.

Hallgren added that now many people view the morning rush hour car ride as a waste of time.

“[If people can] Better optimizing roads and better optimizing their time is probably good for everyone. I think people are going to look to what works for them, ”he said.

Automakers should seek to better understand how vehicles are used, he said, such as shorter neighborhood trips for shopping rather than long trips.

“This probably bodes well for thinking about the future of mobility and when to use electric vehicles,” he said.

American workers have traditionally had to try to manage their personal lives around their work, but the flexibility of work means that is changing. Hallgren believes there are going to be big changes for retailers and the way urban centers are organized.

“Understanding where and how people are going and when they are going – I think that’s changing dramatically,” he said, citing an example of Starbucks in freeway ramps rather than in an area around downtown.


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