How did traffic change in 2021?

We observed that in 2021 the global congestion level changed and slightly increased in comparison to 2020, but overall, it remained low.

In 2021, the congestion levels of 70 cities (of the 404 included in this year’s edition) surpassed the 2019 benchmarks. This tells us that traffic is more or less back to normal.

2019

changes from 2018

2020

changes from 2019

2021

changes from 2019

no change
decreased
increased

There was an increase in the number of cities with lower congestion levels. Compared to 2019, the number of most congested cities decreased from 13 to 6 (in 2021).

2019

2020

2021

>50%
25%-50%
15%-25%
<15%

2021 Highlights

See what unique factors influenced traffic in cities and countries around the world.

back to school

HIGHLIGHTS 2021

Back to school = back to normal?

In September, in some European countries, the long-awaited return to normality can be foreshadowed in the increase in congestion levels in comparison to 2019.


Some of the the biggest changes were observed in Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark and France.

How did the pandemic affect rush hour?

Peak hours shifted in 158 out of 404 cities. Record shifts of two or three hours in the morning were noticeable in the U.S. and Canadian cities due to morning congestion level being lower than middle-of-the-day congestion level.

158/404 cities

experienced a shift in rush hour in comparison to 2019

Average congestion levels throughout the day in September and October 2019-2021 in Europe and North America

How did AM/PM rush hour congestion change?

September and October reflected a period of relatively high vaccination rates (at least in some countries), with children going back to school in Europe and America before new restrictions were introduced.

europe continent image
europe
north america continent image
north america
  1. 2019
  2. 2020
  3. 2021

We noticed in Europe, AM peak remained a bit lower than in 2019, with PM peak near previous levels. Between peaks hours, congestion was higher. In North America, peak hour congestion was noticeably lower than in 2019, while between peak congestion was the same.

Changes in rush hours in selected countries

How did AM/PM rush hour congestion levels change across countries in September and October 2019-2021?

France flag
France
2%
AM
2%
PM
Poland flag
Poland
3%
AM
2%
PM

Exceeding 2019 levels

Some countries have exceeded the 2019 levels. In France, a change of 2% was visible during both morning and evening rush hours while in Poland only evening rush hour exceeded 2019 levels.

Netherlands flag
Netherlands
7%
AM
5%
PM
Germany flag
Germany
4%
AM
2%
PM

Lower morning rush hours, higher between peaks

In the Netherlands and Germany we observed a decrease in congestion during morning rush hours, however traffic during mid-day exceeded 2019 levels.

UK flag
UK
6%
AM
6%
PM
US flag
US
9%
AM
6%
PM

Lower peak congestion, same between peaks

In the United Kingdom and the United States of America we saw a different trend where the congestion during morning and evening rush hours decreased, but the traffic during mid-day and night remained similar to 2019 levels.

France flag
France
2%
AM
2%
PM
Poland flag
Poland
3%
AM
2%
PM
Netherlands flag
Netherlands
7%
AM
5%
PM
Germany flag
Germany
4%
AM
2%
PM
UK flag
UK
6%
AM
6%
PM
US flag
US
9%
AM
6%
PM

Exceeding 2019 levels

Some countries have exceeded the 2019 levels. In France, a change of 2% was visible during both morning and evening rush hours while in Poland only evening rush hour exceeded 2019 levels.

Lower morning rush hours, higher between peaks

In the Netherlands and Germany we observed a decrease in congestion during morning rush hours, however traffic during mid-day exceeded 2019 levels.

Lower peak congestion, same between peaks

In the United Kingdom and the United States of America we saw a different trend where the congestion during morning and evening rush hours decreased, but the traffic during mid-day and night remained similar to 2019 levels.

And what about emissions?

We can’t talk about congestion without mentioning its impact on the environment. Have you ever wondered how traffic and congestion levels affect CO2 emissions? What is the cost of congestion to the environment and what can we do to offset it? What will be the impact of electric vehicle adoption?

read more about methodology

This year, we analyzed data for four European cities to find answers to often-asked questions. We looked at the cost of congestion, the quantifiable effect of EVs on the environment, as well as the impact of policies around low emission zones.

Total emissions and cost of congestion in 2021

How were cities affected by traffic-related emissions? What was the cost of congestion and its impact on the environment?
Amsterdam image
undefined flag Amsterdam
0.84megatonnes/year
of CO2 was emitted in total in 2021
was emitted due to traffic congestion (cost of congestion)
0,06megatonnes
To offset the total amount of CO2 emissions from traffic a forest of the size of 700 km2 would need to grow for a year.
Amsterdam image
Berlin image
undefined flag Berlin
4.00megatonnes/year
of CO2 was emitted in total in 2021
was emitted due to traffic congestion (cost of congestion)
0,42megatonnes
To offset the total amount of CO2 emissions from traffic a forest of the size of 3200 km2 would need to grow for a year.
Berlin image
London image
undefined flag London
14.80megatonnes/year
of CO2 was emitted in total in 2021
was emitted due to traffic congestion (cost of congestion)
2,2megatonnes
To offset the total amount of CO2 emissions from traffic a forest of the size of 12000 km2 would need to grow for a year.
London image
Paris image
undefined flag Paris
13.80megatonnes/year
of CO2 was emitted in total in 2021
was emitted due to traffic congestion (cost of congestion)
1,85megatonnes
To offset the total amount of CO2 emissions from traffic a forest of the size of 11000 km2 would need to grow for a year.
Paris image

Spatial distribution of emissions throughout the day

When and where were greenhouse gases and pollutants emitted in cities? See the changes in air quality due to traffic and congestion.

Pick a city
undefined flag Amsterdam

Total CO2 emissions in Amsterdam over an average traffic weekday.

Daily Emissions Distribution

The X axis shows the time of day. The Y axis shows the emitted CO2 per hour of the day.

1700 tonnes
of CO2 emitted during low traffic day
2450 tonnes
of CO2 emitted during average traffic day
2900 tonnes
of CO2 emitted during high traffic day

was emitted during an average traffic day due to traffic congestion (daily cost of congestion).

390tonnes
The color code shows the amount of emission in kilograms of a given segment. This allows us to clearly see how much and when each road, intersection, and other road features contribute to total emissions.
low traffichigh traffic
low emissionshigh emissions

FLEET COMPOSITION

What impact did fleet composition have on emissions?

Amsterdam

47.7%

gasoline vehicles

42.3%

diesel vehicles

0.5%

hybrid vehicles

9.5%

electric vehicles

emitted amount of CO2

0.33 Mt0.51 Mt3.82 Kt

Where the yearly EV fleet

electricity demand in

Amsterdam is

120 GWh

Berlin

47.0%

gasoline vehicles

51.0%

diesel vehicles

0.5%

hybrid vehicles

1.5%

electric vehicles

emitted amount of CO2

1.35 Mt2.6 Mt14.27 Kt

Where the yearly EV fleet

electricity demand in

Berlin is

71 GWh

London

35.6%

gasoline vehicles

59.6%

diesel vehicles

0.4%

hybrid vehicles

4.4%

electric vehicles

emitted amount of CO2

4.12 Mt10.66 Mt47.05 Kt

Where the yearly EV fleet

electricity demand in

London is

718 GWh

Paris

24.0%

gasoline vehicles

71.5%

diesel vehicles

0.5%

hybrid vehicles

4.0%

electric vehicles

emitted amount of CO2

2.6 Mt11.11 Mt44.55 Kt

Where the yearly EV fleet

electricity demand in

Paris is

597 GWh

Explore how emissions change when the number of electric vehicles in a fleet increases.

Use the simulator to check different What if scenarios.

Pick a city
undefined flagAmsterdam

0.00 megatonnes

TOTAL EMISSIONS

9.5% more than in 2021

0 GWh

ELECTRICITY DEMAND

100% less than in 2021

CHANGE THE % OF EVS IN THE FLEET AND OBSERVE ITS IMPACT

fleets

0%

FLEET % OF EVS

Together, we can improve how the world moves. Will you join us in making the roads safer, the drive better and the air cleaner?

Watch our on-demand webinar recording and take a deeper dive into the data and methodology behind the TomTom Traffic Index

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A closer look at traffic, traffic-induced emissions and use of traffic data.

What can traffic tell us about changing lifestyles? How has mobility evolved over lockdowns interspersed with windows of normalcy? How does this impact our society, our economy and our environment?  Join us for a webinar as we discuss how traffic data can be used for smarter business decisions.

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