DAVIS (CBS SF) – While the coronavirus shelter-in-place orders have caused a steep decline in traffic, a new study looks to quantify the environmental impact of taking all those tailpipes off the roads.
Researchers at the University of California, Davis found that driving has declined by about 70 percent across the state since the orders went into effect in March. That has not only led to clearer skies, but also a huge dip in greenhouse gas emissions.
The study also found that even though the U.S. is pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, a decline in driving nationwide is actually getting the country on track to meet its annual target.
“We’re putting less carbon dioxide out into the atmosphere,” said Fraser Shilling, director of the university’s Road Ecology Center. “And we’re doing it so fast we’re meeting our annual goal, our yearly goals, in an 8-week period.”
Researchers used cell-phone data to track and analyze daily vehicle miles traveled.