If you do a quick Google search of Mother’s Day 2020, you’ll see a variety articles focused on topics related to whether it is safe or permissible to visit mom during COVID-19. For holidays falling within the COVID-19 era, Americans seem to be willing to venture out amid remaining pandemic restrictions. As we’ve examined more data gleaned from across our telematics programs, it has become apparent that special days like Mother’s Day and Memorial Day are just as important to celebrate as ever.

In previous blogs on the topic of driving behavior shifts due to COVID-19 and the social restrictions that went with it, I wrote about the reduction in traffic volumes we saw in the early days of shutdowns and how fewer drivers on the road did not equate to lower risk. As more states and municipalities lift restrictions, it’s natural to see more vehicles on the roads, especially on weekends during beautiful spring weather. Timing is everything, of course. So, it may be coincidental that we saw spikes in average miles driven per trip around Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 10th) and Memorial Day (Monday, May 25th) through our telematics data. Or, maybe it’s not.

* Average mileage per trip normalized to pre-COVID levels from Feb to mid-March 2020.

Celebrating Mom

Sending flowers and heading out for brunch have been the traditional ways we’ve spent the second Sunday in May since Mother’s Day first became popular in the early 20th century. In 2020, however, things were quite different. Residents were asked to limit travel and only make trips for essential needs. Websites were publishing ideas on how to celebrate mom while social distancing. Despite any remaining shutdown restrictions, it seems as though much of the U.S. population made celebrating the holiday a priority.

As seen in the graph above, we examined driving data over a four-week period from May 3 – May 30 to look at trends related to holidays that fell within the month. Through our telematics data, we saw a spike in miles per trip on May 10 – Mother’s Day – with mileage similar to what was seen just prior to COVID-19 shutdowns. The average miles per trip on Mother’s Day 2020 were at 107% of pre-COVID levels.

Remembering Heroes and Kicking off Summer

A national holiday observed every year on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the military. It is also widely considered the unofficial start of summer, kicking off many outdoor social gatherings such as barbecues and trips to the beach with family and friends. Considering that many more states and localities began lifting travel restrictions in late May, it seems to follow that road travel would spike during Memorial Day weekend.

On May 25 – the federal Memorial Day holiday – we saw a spike in miles driven per trip back to 109% of pre-COVID levels on the holiday itself. However, in looking at the trend line in the graph above, it appears that much travel occurred over the weekend before the holiday. With Memorial Day being honored on a Monday, the data suggests that those that did venture out were willing to drive much further to take advantage of the long weekend starting as early as Friday, May 22. This may be due to many people flocking to vacation destinations like beaches and lakes over the long weekend, which are likely farther away than mom’s house.

Drivers Resuming Normal Travel

Warmer weather has arrived, at least for most of the country! As we head deeper into summer when more Americans typically hit the open road, we will continue to monitor our telematics data and bring you updates and insights on how changes can impact your insureds and your business. With Father’s Day just a few days away, we anticipate similar driving behavior trends as we saw on Mother’s Day. Or, perhaps we’ll finally know who is loved more, mom or dad…

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