Driving is down due to coronavirus and “we don’t know” if the trend will last

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The coronavirus crisis has caused a dramatic reduction in the number of cars on the road. The speed at which they are returning as the pandemic subsides remains to be seen, Allstate CEO Thomas Wilson said on Tuesday.

“What we don’t know is what will happen when we get out of it,” said Wilson on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley”.

People who started working at home during the pandemic may decide to continue doing so and only go to the office three days a week, said Wilson.

“So will driving be down two-fifths instead of five-fifths? We do not yet know about this part of the driving, “he said.

The reduction in coronavirus-related behavior really started to appear in the third week of March, according to Wilson. He said by this point driving was down about 35% to 50%, according to the state. “People have stopped driving almost by themselves,” he said.

“Even when you look at the rules for on-site shelters versus homeless on-site states, driving has gone down a lot because people commute to work about a third of the time,” he said. “A third of the time is for shopping and a third of the time for seeing friends. So at least two of them have been reduced considerably because of this. “

Wilson also said that it is not clear how short-term driving reductions will influence long-term trends in owning a personal car. Fewer people over time will own cars, he said, but “whether it accelerates or not, I’m not sure.”

“The world is definitely going to be different,” he added.

A car travels along an empty highway during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic in Seattle, Washington, March 30, 2020.

David Ryder | Reuters

Allstate accesses the driving data of 23 million cars every day, said Wilson, and the data also highlights the driving behaviors of those who are still on the roads.

“The people who are still driving are driving a little faster,” he said. “Maybe it’s because no one is there, but we don’t know if they will have more accidents. “

In general, however, the reduction in driving has resulted in fewer accidents and, by extension, fewer auto insurance claims.

Wilson responded: Allstate launched a program this week to reimburse part of the insurance premiums to customers. All Allstate auto insurance customers will receive 15% of their monthly premiums in April and May, he said.

“They can have it on their credit card or they can put it in their checking account,” said Wilson, adding that Allstate wanted to make sure he treated his customers fairly during the pandemic. “We worked to give them money because they really need it at this point. “

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