How to Beat Thanksgiving Traffic

There were 46.3 million people in the US traveling during Thanksgiving last year, with 89% of those people traveling by car. That’s a lot of people on the road, but there are certain days and times that are less congested than others. Since we want to equip the Metromile community to be the smartest drivers possible, we’ve crunched some numbers to give you an idea of the best and worst times to drive, based on 2014 trips by Metromile drivers.

beat_thanksgiving_traffic

We looked at Metromile trips during the weeks before and during Thanksgiving in California, Washington, Seattle and Illinois (we weren’t in Pennsylvania and Virginia at the time). While trip mileage varied by each state, the most miles were driven on Thanksgiving day across all states. The average miles driven that day was 27 in California, 23 in Illinois and 22 in both Washington and Oregon. For context, the average Metromiler typically drives 13 miles a day.

It seems that folks definitely make a weekend out of Turkey Day. In California, Oregon and Washington, the Sunday after Thanksgiving was the day with the second largest amount of miles driven. Illinois drivers logged their second heaviest mileage day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, perhaps getting a head start on the journey or covering a longer distance.

The whole week surrounding Thanksgiving was filled with high mileage days, but we did find that Monday and Tuesday had the smallest mileage spike in all states. The average miles driven in California on the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving was 16 and 17 miles respectively, which is about 60% less than on Thanksgiving day. So if Monday and Tuesday are the best days to drive, what about the best times? Check out the handy infographic below to drill down into the details (it’s interactive, so you can even view by city). As indicated by the darker colors, mid afternoon to early evening tends to be the most congested.

In short, according to trips taken by Metromilers last year, it is best to drive on Monday or Tuesday, and earlier in the day (before noon). If you do have some big holiday road trips in the future, you are in luck if you are a Metromile pay-per-mile car insurance customer. We have a daily mileage cap so you won’t be charged for over a 250 miles a day (150 in certain states), but still will be totally covered all the way to grandma’s house!

The Major Benefits of Driving Less (Infographic)

We recently released a report showing that Metromile test drivers who used our smart driving app to measure mileage and later switched to per-mile insurance ended up driving 6% less after the switch. This seemingly small reduction in driving can actually have a significant impact on our economy and environment, especially if everyone reduced their driving by this amount. To illustrate just how much of a positive effect this could have, we created an infographic to show all of the benefits. Check it out:
Drive Less Benefits Infographic

If you would like to dig a little bit deeper, you can check out our original report or the Brookings Institution’s report about pay-per-mile car insurance.

Would You Drive Less If You Paid for Insurance by the Mile?

The following is a post from Jim Levinsohn, Director, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University, and George Mohler, Director of Data Science, Metromile

If you’re like most drivers, the answer seems to be “yes.”

We analyzed 191,699 trips made by Metromile customers who started out on a free test drive program and later switched to pay-per-mile insurance. (Each switcher had at least 30 days of driving before and after the switch). On average these individuals drove 16.4 miles per day before purchasing per-mile insurance. After switching, they drove on average 15.5 miles per day—a reduction of 6%.[1]

What’s going on here? It turns out that economics predicts exactly this outcome. When you buy traditional car insurance, you pay a fixed premium. That means that when you’re deciding whether or not to make a given trip, insurance cost doesn’t enter the calculation since that cost is invariant to whether or not you make the trip. You might consider the cost of gasoline and your time, because those costs increase if you make an extra trip, but not insurance costs. One consequence of traditional car insurance is that drivers with below average mileage in effect subsidize the premiums of drivers with higher mileage (an individual’s risk of an accident in a year increases with miles driven).

But when your car insurance is on a per-mile basis, the equation changes. Drivers with below average mileage start to save money, whereas drivers with above average mileage pay more. The less you drive, the lower your premium, so there’s a clear incentive to reduce your miles driven. In order to achieve the same incentive for reducing mileage, the tax on gasoline would need to be on the order of $0.74 per gallon! This is larger than the state gasoline tax in even the highest tax states. Simply changing the way insurance is priced has significant environmental advantages. (more…)

Commuting in Illinois: The Major Headaches for Drivers

Owning a car is liberating, but it can also try your patience. Since we’re all about making car ownership as easy as possible, we recently ran a survey to uncover the habits and headaches of Illinois drivers (one of the states where Metromile offers per-mile insurance). We hope to use these insights to guide future innovations, and maybe these stats will encourage drivers to drive a little less and walk (or bike) a little more!

Of the 500 people that responded, more than 62% commute less than 20 miles by car per day, with nearly 30% commuting less than five miles per day. Despite the low daily mileage, 36% said that what bothers them the most about driving a car in Illinois is traffic and congestion.

Illinois Car Insurance

According to TomTom data, Chicago is one of the top 10 US cities with the most congestion, with a 27% increase in overall travel time compared to driving without any traffic. There is a 43% increase in time traveled during the morning commute and a 59% increase in the evening, which explains why Illinois drivers are so frustrated with the traffic they face in such a short commute. In 2014, the average commuter spent an extra 100 hours traveling during rush hour alone. That could have been one awesome long weekend!

We also found that the costs of driving and car ownership are frustrating. 25% stated that gas prices were one of the biggest problems associated with car ownership, and another 10% don’t like the cost of parking and parking tickets.

This is where per-mile insurance comes in. We’re learning that Illinois car insurance customers who pay-per-mile actually drive less (more on that soon!). Fewer cars on the road results in fewer traffic back-ups and ultimately fewer accidents. It also means paying for gas less frequently, and probably fewer parking tickets. Plus, when your monthly bill is based on miles driven, if you drive less then you will pay less! You can learn more about how per-mile insurance works here.