Have you noticed that traffic in New Jersey has become erratic and very unpredictable since COVID-19 pandemic began?

Things have become so strange since then that it’s almost impossible to predict what surprise awaits you just around the corner. But what I have found really puzzling is the traffic. It’s just, well, weird. It doesn’t really make any sense. No one’s on the road at 9 a.m. but at 2 p.m. you can’t get anywhere! Things slow down again at what would normally be rush hour, and then all of a sudden at 9:30 at night you can see traffic like you’ve never seen before at that hour.

I think I finally have this figured out — but it’s only a theory. Here goes.

People are sleeping in later since many people are not working — or working from home. That can account for the fact that you don’t see many cars on the road during what we usually know as rush hour in the morning. So people are starting their days later, which can explain why you sometimes see a huge line of cars at a Starbucks or Burger King drive-through at 11 a.m. or noon when they used to be a ghost town at those hours. Things start building from there and the new rush hour peak is more like 2 or 3 in the afternoon!

And then — guess what happens. Parents, who are not working or working from home have finished entertaining the kids for the day or, in the case of this past spring, schooling them. Now they’re looking forward to the wind down — that couple of hours where they get to wrap up their day with the kids. And since they’ve had them in their hair all day, the wind down our starts a little earlier ... say, about 4 p.m. The kids are done learning, the parents are done listening to the whining, so let’s all get ready for bath or dinner or bedtime or whatever will put an end to the full-time parenting — a.k.a. the longest day on earth.

During normal times, cars would pack the roads from 5 to 7 p.m.  Now, in this dystopian world we call the COVID-19 pandemic, you can practically have the roads to yourself at those hours. Then, presumably to escape the nightmare of quarantine (or their kids), people bust out again at 8 or 9 p.m.

It may only be a theory, but it’s the only one that makes sense. This new schedule has dramatically changed the way we move about in New Jersey and it’s really interesting to see it happen.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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