How Boston, NYC drivers reacted to January Nor’easter

There’s snow place like home. 

Image courtesy of StandupNY

People tend to drive less when it’s snowing. People drive even less when their city officials expressly forbid them from doing so.  Due to excessive predictions on the severity of the winter storm that hit the Northeastern United States the week of January 26, Boston and New York City were among the cities that issued parking and driving bans in an effort to keep citizens off the roads.

Whether it was the the threat of snow, the city bans or the projected closures of schools and businesses, Tuesday, January 27 saw an incredible decrease of drivers on the road.

We examined Wazer activity on Tuesday, January 27 (the day the storm hit) compared to the previous 24 hours and the previous Tuesday (January 20), looking at the percentage change in active usage.

Here is driver activity compared to the previous Tuesday:


By the time rush hour would start at 7:00AM on Tuesday, January 27, we’re only seeing 9% (91% drop) of the number of drivers from January 20. As the day goes on, people in both cities get a bit braver as they realize the storm isn’t quite as bad as predicted. In the chart above, New York appears to bounce back slightly more than Boston.

Compare this to the chart of the previous 24 hours:


Despite early apprehensions caused by storm warnings, the rush hour drops are consistent with the previous Tuesday. But by the end of the day, New York drivers have returned to normal numbers of activity, though Boston is still lagging at a 40% less-than-normal activity.

Based on the graph above, it seems like New York City realized that they had been spared the worst of the storm (especially compared to headlines) and slowly but surely got back on the road. Boston, on the other hand, is expecting even more snow.

Luckily for Bostonians, announced a new website today called “Snow Stats”, a real-time website that lets locals see facts and figures about snowfall in their area. This couldn’t come at a better time, as the last seven days have been the snowiest in the history of Boston.

Drivers in the Northeast US are still pretty hearty, and the weather never keeps them off the road for long. By Thursday, driver activity in both Boston and New York City had returned to normal.

Safe driving out there!

Cover Photo by ZUMA / Rex Features, via The Guardian